Finally Time To Make His Mark At Liverpool?
And so the summer transfer window rolls around again and with it bringing a storm of uncertainty over Liverpool. They have their new manager but the club are being relentlessly linked to a vast quantity of players as they look to improve upon last season’s dismal showing. But having spent two years away from the club on loan, will Alberto Aquilani finally get his chance to win over the Anfield faithful?
Often seen as a replacement for Xabi Alonso by Liverpool fans when he signed in 2009 they were disappointed that he could not fill the boots of the Spaniard. Yet they are not similar players. Alonso is known for sitting deep and spraying the ball across the park while Aquilani is at his best in a more advanced role with less defensive duties. A series of injuries during his first year at Liverpool also irked the supporters; they were not seeing a return on the money spent.
He was thus sent out on loan to Juventus the following season. Aquilani enjoyed a decent spell with the Turin club achieving a pass success average of 82.2 per cent whilst also contributing two goals and five assists. But with a new manager coming in at the end of his spell in Antonio Conte no place in the squad was seen for him in the long term following the acquisition of Andrea Pirlo.
Pirlo’s transfer led to Milan taking Aquilani on loan the next season. He had a similarly productive season, finishing with a pass completion percentage higher than that of Pirlo’s at 87.1%. However, Aquilani only started 14 games and made nine substitute appearances while the Juventus player started 37 matches. He also accumulated an average of 42.5 passes per game, under half of players such as Pirlo or Barcelona’s Xavi but Aquilani does not claim to be a midfield lynchpin as the aforementioned duo.
When playing for Massimo Allegri’s side Aquilani often formed part of a midfield three in a 4-3-1-2 which saw a great deal of rotation. He managed to accumulate six assists from this position, more than any other player who operated there for Milan. This certainly shows that he is still capable of making a telling contribution to a team that is challenging for domestic honours.
He may have only scored one goal during his time at the San Siro but his stats suggest he would be at home in a team conducted by Brendan Rodgers. Having built a reputation as a manager who encourages his team to play a high quality passing game, Aquilani could well be in his element. With Steven Gerrard now unable to burst forward from midfield the Italian would have a license to play further forward, suiting his style of play.
Reports are that he could terminate his contract in order to move to Milan but having spent £17million to acquire his services from Roma it would be awful business for Liverpool to let him go for free. With Jordan Henderson struggling to make an impact in the Anfield midfield there are certainly positions open for contention. Aquilani would help provide some decent competition whilst also possibly offering something himself.
Some may argue that he will find less time on the ball in the English game than he did in Serie A. But with Rodgers’ at the helm the team they will seek to hold onto possession as much as possible, creating their own time on the ball to pull open the space and create opportunities. Surely then, Liverpool would not allow one of the top 20 passers from Serie A last season slip away?
All statistics supplied by www.whoscored.com