Many eyebrows were raised when Stoke City managed to secure the singing of Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri from Bayern Munich last summer, as many expected him to opt for a bigger club having spent a reasonably successful six months on loan at Inter Milan.
The idea of Stoke not being an attractive place for a high-profile player to ply his trade has been slowly eroding over the past few years, in particular since Mark Hughes took over and the long throw-ins died down, and although he hasn't quite had the impact on the pitch that he would have hoped for so far, the man amusingly previously known as the "Powercube" in Germany claims that the decision to come to the Britannia Stadium was perfect.
The lazy opinion in the aftermath of the singing, particularly from Bayern legend Steffan Effenberg, was that Shaqiri was moving for money alone, but speaking to The Telegraph, the man himself revealed that a major factor in his decision to move to Stoke was the quietness of the city:
It was a decision for me to come somewhere where I could be (myself) and where it would be a little quieter.
I wanted to be a little quieter. I didn’t want to be always at the front every day (in the spotlight). Also in Switzerland I am always on the front. So also less attention, then. That was also part of my decision to come here and to work more quietly. I can concentrate on my football and getting to the level I want to be at.
I hope (to do that) soon. I need to keep playing a lot of games to come back to that level, but I hope it will happen soon. Of course it is normal when you have a big name and people know you from everywhere that they wonder ‘why did he go there and not there?’ But, for me, I am very, very happy to be here and I know having been here now for some time that I made absolutely the right decision. I feel very well.
If, at 24, Shaqiri really did pick Stoke as a place where he could stay out of the spotlight and focus purely on football, then he should be praised for that. We've seen many young players in the past rot at big clubs after shining for smaller teams, so with Euro 2016 on the horizon the former Bayern man wanted to be sure he would play every week.
He also added that word of Stoke's upward curve in form is reaching out onto the continent:
Also a lot of players, good players ask me ‘can you ask them (if they would be interested in signing me)?’ And I like this.
Although we all know they just want to play with big Jon Walters.