There has been a lot of fuss made about the sale of Xabi Alonso and the poor start to the season that Liverpool have made. There is no doubt they have been missing the midfield playmaker in my mind, but probably not the extent that many pundits and newspapers would have you believe. Scoring goals has not been a problem for this Liverpool side this season, but a lack of assuredness at the back has been a serious issue. The creative talents of Alonso are not maybe what is missing at the moment, but I believe his ability to control games has been a greater miss. Keeping the ball in Liverpool’s possession as team-mates looked for him for distribution, taking the ball from the back four rather than the back four making themselves look foolish by trying to make killer balls themselves, was his forte. Lack of control can generally lead to more dangerous attacks by the opposition and expose a back line to greater bombardment than it is used to.
So will the ‘Little Prince’ change all this? Will the arrival of Alberto Aquilani for what may be his full home debut against Manchester City on Saturday afternoon be the answer to all the problems Liverpool have come up against this season? Benitez was criticised for risking £20million on a player who had a long term ankle injury which had kept him out since last March. The Italian midfielder has a history of injuries and the fact he missed a large part of early season has led many to question a signing of an injury prone player who is not proven at the highest level. So should Liverpool fans be apprehensive about Aquilani’s first start for Liverpool? Not in the slightest from my point of view? A great advocate of the Italian’s talents came no less than from his former captain at Roma, Francesco Totti:
He is elegant and smart – these are his main characteristics. Potentially he is one of the best in the world, He has been unlucky with injuries so far but I believe he will do really well in England. Good players prove themselves wherever they go. Alberto will adapt to any type of football. He really is a complete midfielder.
He is rated very highly back in Italy and it was a big blow for his Roma team-mates when he left the club. Why you ask were they so upset with him leaving when he had quite a few injury problems? Because when he did play, his team-mates saw something very special in him, a “complete midfielder” as Totti said.
He is no doubt a more offensive player than Alonso, he will play further forward than Alonso but like the Spaniard, he can pick out a killer pass or go for goal himself. In fact his long range shooting ability is quite a bit superior to Alonso’s and we might see some spectacular long shots in the coming years. In terms of his passing, if his long raking, diagonal ball against Arsenal in the Carling Cup is anything to go by, we will be in for a real treat. At 25, Aquilani still has a lot of potential, and if he stays fit in the coming years, he may just develop into a truly great player, a true snip at 20million for Benitez. It may still have been a risk to buy the ‘Little Prince’ due to his long term injury which has kept him from settling in his early career at Anfield, but we maybe just be rewarded with a true talent that could surpass Alonso’s feats at the club in the long term. Lets pray that if he plays against Manchester City he gets off to a flyer, because god knows we need him to at the moment.