As we approach Thanksgiving Day in America, we also approach the time of year when transfer rumors in Europe really start to heat up in advance of the winter transfer window in January. One of this season's hottest transfer commodities is Xherdan Shaqiri, a player who was loosely linked to Napoli over the summer, but the transfer rumor mill has had that interest strengthening of late.
The question for months, though, is whether or not Bayern would let Shaqiri go. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are both still performing well, but at their ages the inevitable downslide for attackers as the end of their careers approach is a lot closer with each passing day. That's always left Shaqiri as more valuable to Bayern's future than he'd be to more clubs, so they've resisted interest in the Switzerland international for two years now.
But with Shaqiri still struggling for regular playing time in Germany, having started just four matches for Bayern this season across all competitions, and the player's growing agitation showing in recent interviews, Bayern has decided that it's time to move on. "Bayern have already sent out a signal and indicated to [Shaqiri] that he can probably go in the winter break, when he wants," Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer told German media today. "It's a shame [to lose him] because I think he's a great talent."
Napoli have reportedly been quite interested in Shaqiri in the wake of the injuries to Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens, but will face stiff competition to get their hands on him. Juventus are among several other Serie A sides interested in Shaqiri, and the Swiss winger has drawn interest from several English sides such as Liverpool and Arsenal as well. Those are some big clubs with deep pockets, making it much harder for Napoli to compete if a bidding war breaks out.
Further complicating matters is that Napoli would apparently prefer an initial loan for the rest of the season before buying Shaqiri outright, something that Bayern aren't interested in. So unless Napoli can find room in their budget and make it feasible under Financial Fair Play (remember: lower incomes for the season thanks to no Champions League means a smaller transfer budget unless you want to risk FFP violations), then this deal is looking pretty dead in the water before it can even get going.
We can still dream, though. With Insigne out, Shaqiri would instantly be the main starter on the left wing across from Jose Callejon. Frankly, even with Insigne around and healthy, Shaqiri would challenge Callejon for the club's best wide player. He's proved on a variety of big stages that he has what it takes to be a top player, now he just needs to join a club that will give him regular starts again to fully blossom in to the star he can be. Hopefully Napoli can find a way to work, because Serie A would be a good home for him, and he would seemingly fit in very well with how Rafa Benitez operates. It's an extreme longshot that this pans out, but if we hope and wish and dream really hard, maybe it can happen.