Stoke's Fletcher likens Shaqiri to Messi

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Darren Fletcher has likened Stoke City team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri to Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Fletcher was the first player signed by Mark Hughes this transfer window after his West Brom contract expired.

And the former Manchester United midfielder has been extremely impressed with what he has seen from ex-Inter and Bayern Munich playmaker Shaqiri since moving to the bet365 Stadium.

He told the Stoke Sentinel: "I'm not saying he's Messi but he's got that same low centre of gravity and he can get past you so he really is hard to get a handle on.

"He's a fantastic footballer. You can talk about his strength and his size but the biggest thing is that his first touch is fantastic: that moves the ball and eliminates strong players, then he relies on his strength when he has to.

"Most of the time his first touch is that good that it's probably the difference. He's a top-quality player, you can see that. He has great strength, when he receives the ball, he is sharp.

"Things happen when he gets the ball, which is important. You need your match winners, you need your mavericks, and he's definitely one of those."