Presenting by Xherdan Shaqiri in Chicago: ‘I’m On My Top’

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Shaqiri was officially presented in Chicago: “Only aging stars? This is history! Don’t underestimate MLS. “

A week before the Major League Soccer season kicks off, Xherdan Shaqiri announced his move from Lyon to Chicago Fire. And promises that the Swiss team will not worry.

New Xherdan Shaqiri Colours: The 30-year-old will play for the Chicago Fire for the first time next Sunday.

Georgios Kevalas / Keystone

The new season in Major League Soccer begins next weekend in the United States. Also present: Xherdan Shaqiri. He officially unveiled his new club on Monday following his move from Lyon to Chicago Fire. “I am at the height of my ability and want to help bring back the glory days to Chicago.” The last and only title dates back to 1998.

In the morning, the Chicago Fire released a short video showing Shaqiri being greeted with drums and shouting by a handful of fans upon his arrival. It’s a warm greeting despite the bitter cold. “I’ve only heard good things about the city from everywhere, I’m really happy to be here,” Shaqiri says.

Now Shaqiri is sitting on a pedestal in the media room of his new club, next to him is George Heitz, the Chicago Fire sporting director and largely responsible for Shaqiri who is now playing in the USA at the age of 30. First, the two talk to American journalists. When they finish this first part, they take their time for some hypothetical questions from Switzerland – at least that’s the plan before the streak breaks after a few minutes.

First the doubts, then two weeks later the interest

When the queue is still running, Hits tells us how Shugairi was moved. The first phone call was made in December. “At first I noticed a reluctance. But then I soon realized that there was an enthusiasm being aroused. After two weeks, the interest was palpable.” That’s what Hitz says. He later added by phone to CH Media: “It only makes sense that you would want to deal with the league in detail from Europe. But I assure you the MLS is great. It is constantly improving. And the stars are getting younger too.” In addition, Shakiri can lead an almost quiet life in Chicago – unlike the past few years.

Shaqiri himself also confirms: “Clubs no longer have 35 or 36-year-olds like they used to. You can’t underestimate the league, but a lot of people in Europe still do.” It was important for him to note that more and more top players are moving to the United States at the height of their careers. Latest example: Lorenzo Insigne moved from Napoli to Toronto after this season.

First goal: Qualifiers

Shaqiri had only moved from Liverpool to Lyon in the summer. Hoping to finally get some more playing time. But the hoped-for recovery did not materialize and the following misunderstanding arose. Shaqiri played quite a bit, and when he did, coach Peter Boss put him on the wing instead of in the middle. His conclusion: “I really wanted to leave Lyon.” Shaqiri allowed himself one straight sentence. Before adding: “I don’t want to say more about my leaving Lyon. After all, I have big goals here in Chicago.”

The first thing to do is make the playoffs. This is not impossible, but it is by no means a natural matter either. 28 teams play in the MLS, divided into Eastern and Western groups. Chicago must be in the top seven in the Eastern Conference at the end of the regular season to reach the playoffs. The last time it happened was in 2017, when Bastian Schweinsteiger was still playing in Chicago.

What does Shugairi’s move mean for the national team?

Last fall, Xherdan Shaqiri played his 100th international match for Switzerland, a few weeks after his 30th birthday. The decisive match in the World Cup qualifiers was against Bulgaria (4-0). It was another great performance by Shkeiri, who has now, after a great European Championship, led the national team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

A warm hug after qualifying for the World Cup.  Xherdan Shaqiri and coach of the national team Mourad Yaqin.

A warm hug after qualifying for the World Cup. Xherdan Shaqiri and coach of the national team Mourad Yaqin.

Martin Meinberger / Fresh Fox

The question now is: What does Shugairi’s move from Lyon to Chicago mean for Al-Nati? The outside line died suddenly – but Shaqiri picks up the phone again and assures us: “This change means nothing to the national team! I see no reason to change anything. I still look forward to every team and reach more achievements with the national team.”

Then he has to go. The Chicago adventure has begun. The first game of the new season will follow soon: Next Sunday, Chicago meet Inter Miami away.

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