Time for Rafa to gamble on his ‘Little Prince’

Big things were expected of Liverpool’s £20m summer signing Alberto Aquilani. The Italian midfielder arrived with a growing reputation and it was hoped he would fill the void left by Xabi Alonso’s departure.

Liverpool made an awful start to the season whilst Aquilani watched from the sidelines, not making his debut until the end of October due to injury. By this time Liverpool were off the pace and faced a tough job even to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

As a result, Rafa Benitez, who has never been one keen to take risks, has been reluctant to pick the Italian, who is still struggling to reach full fitness and, according to Benitez, feeling pain every time he kicks the ball.

This has seen Aquilani restricted to just sixteen appearances this season, with Benitez constantly leaving him out against teams with a reputation for a physical style due to the risk of injury.

But if Aquilani is ever going to get fit, he needs to play games. And if he’s ever going to get used to the English game, he needs to play against these physical teams.

One of Liverpool’s biggest problems this season has been the lack of creativity in their side. They have often been frustrated by a lack of ideas when trying to break teams down, and many argue that they have become too predictable.

Javier Mascherano is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and Lucas is a solid if unspectacular player. But both are too similar in their style, breaking up opposition play and playing short passes.

Liverpool need something different. A player who can unlock a defence with clever through balls; someone who can spread the play and provide much needed attacking drive.

Aquilani may not provide all of that, but he is certainly another option. Not a lot is working for Liverpool at the moment, and he would at the very least contribute to a more attacking display.

He has looked bright in the little time he has had so far, and has already linked up well with Dirk Kuyt, providing the Dutchman with two assists.

With the many injuries he has picked up throughout his career (only once at Roma did he make over twenty five league appearances in as season), Liverpool knew they were taking a gamble when they signed Aquilani.

Now, it’s time for them to take another one, and (finally) give him a proper chance to pay them back.

Written By Sean Mullan