Paul Lambert surely ended Liverpool-Neville debate with verdict on managing Shaqiri

Xherdan Shaqiri has been a major talking point across 2018.

The 26-year-old was relegated with Stoke City last season, travelled to the World Cup with Switzerland and proceeded to complete an eye-catching move to Liverpool this summer.

On the whole, it looked a bargain from the Reds with his release clause standing at just £13.5 million and he would provide badly needed back-up for Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

However, not everybody was impressed with Liverpool’s new signing and the bulk of the criticism has come from two sources – Charlie Adam and Gary Neville.

Having played with Shaqiri himself at Stoke, Adam noted back in July: “He has got it in him, but he probably knew we were going to get relegated, he was going to the World Cup and had this big move – this move was probably done three, four months ago.

“He is a match-winner, but at times it was difficult to play in the same team. The manager would let him get away with certain things.”

Meanwhile, Neville dished out the criticism at the World Cup and explained: “He could also be there for three matches, do nothing and just amble and waddle around.

“To be honest with you with him, players like that I can’t have to be honest with you, I struggle with it.”

Harsh words indeed and Shaqiri hasn’t had the opportunity to prove the doubters wrong at Liverpool so far with game-time proving limited.

It seems he won’t have to speak up for himself that much, though, as a certain Paul Lambert came to his defence on beIN Sports this week.

Lambert worked with Shaqiri first hand at Stoke during the back end of last season and said: “All in all, he had eight goals and seven assists or something. He was brilliant for me.

“People can say ‘He never worked back’ but listen, if he’s creating something at the top end of the pitch, then you’ve got a chance. Fifteen games, I never had one problem.

“He was great to work with, never had any problem with him switching off, turning off, not trying, not wanting it – and that’s me being honest.

“I couldn’t argue about what Shaq done for us. He was a terrific player, never had one bit of bother. I always think these type of players are temperamental a little bit and that’s not a slant on him at all.”

Pretty definitive stuff and Lambert even had a dig lined up for Adam for his comments.

“If we had beaten Brighton, as I said before. We had a great chance to do it with a penalty and Charlie should have scored the penalty. If he had done that, we would have been totally fine,” he remarked.

So Lambert was rather keen to defend Shaqiri and it’s very difficult to argue with him when he worked alongside the Swiss so recently.

He would have interacted with the player on the training ground, in the dressing room and seen his attitude on the pitch first-hand.

So, for the time being, Liverpool can feel like they have the upper hand on Adam and Neville when it comes to the Shaqiri debate.