Does Alberto Aquilani Have A Future At Anfield?

Sports News - May 02, 2010

Generally, after the heights climbed of the 08-09 Premier League season, Liverpool supporters thought that this past season would be their year. Surely a squad that would have won the title if not for a couple of blunders against Middlesbrough and a draw with Everton, a squad that did the double over United, including a 4-1 thrashing at the Theatre of Dreams, just needed a few small additions, just a bit more depth, and Liverpool would be restored to the summit of English football where they belonged.

Obviously, the year did not turn out as planned for supporters, and many blame the transfers, where instead of adding depth, injury-prone players were signed, players who were inferior to the ones that left. With hindsight, the signings of Glen Johnson and Maxi Rodriguez can be given a passing grade, as both players showed appreciable effort and the one thing that supporters desire above all, the ability to make something happen offensively.

If Benitez succeeded with those players, there is one area where many say he has failed, with Alberto Aquilani, the most expensive player bought, and the biggest flop. Although however disappointing this season might have been, there is reason to believe that the next one might be better.

From the start Aquilani was destined to fail, as he was initially played (which was not often) deep in midfield with Mascherano. In the beginning Aquilani was viewed as some sort of like for like replacement for Xabi Alonso, which was never going to work because the two had vastly different skill sets. Aquilani’s strengths were not with holding possession, and linking defense and attack, but rather making things happen in enemy territory.

Towards the end of the season Aquilani gradually moved up the pitch until he was playing in something approximating Gerrard’s old role. His performances improved, and so did the team’s, truth be told, although there were disappointments against Fulham, Chelsea and Hull City late in the campaign, the Liverpool that finished the season was far better than the Liverpool that started it. One of the reasons for this is that with Aquilani playing further up the pitch, his natural tendency for attacking passes and long through balls caused less concern to the defense.

He also finished with the second most assists on the team, one less than Gerrard despite appearing in 18 games to Gerrard’s 33, and starting nine to Gerrard’s 32. While this may say something about Liverpool’s season as well as Aquilani, it also shows that he has vision, and is an asset going forward. When he was at his best, such as he was against Portsmouth, Aquilani also made the side more creative up top, often making initial plays to another attacker in space. For a side that often struggled to break down defenses, a fully fit Aquilani helped immensely.

There is no doubt he has his flaws. He seems to have the immune system of a toddler, and if he thinks he can take a game off every time someone kicks him in the ankle in the Premier League, he’s bonkers. But if he can come back next season fully fit, he and Liverpool can surprise a lot of people.

6 thoughts on “Does Alberto Aquilani Have A Future At Anfield?”

  1. A really good article and i agree a lot with you on this !!! Aquilani will be a surprise package next season !!! cat wait to see him playing regularly !

    1. Best alberto assessment. i have given the same points and his style of play is more of what we need than Alonso

  2. “He seems to have the immune system of a toddler”.

    Haha love that line.

    The fact of the matter is that Aquilani has a future at Anfield by default. For one, if Rafa sells him now there is no way he will recoup the money he spent on him. On top of that, I think a good portion of the money made from his sale will go to servicing Liverpool’s debts which cost £110 000 a day just in interest.

    Outside of that, it was always going to be a struggle for Aquilani and the Reds this past season. As you correctly pointed out, Alberto’s skill-set is completely different than Xabi Alonso’s. One of the primary reason’s Liverpool did so well in 2008-2009 is that they were playing a system in which every member of the starting XI felt comfortable in since it was a system they played for some time and could get the best out of everyone.

    Aquilani’s addition meant that they were going to have to learn how to play a new way. Due to Aquilani’s injury problems though they were not able to discover that way as quickly as they would have liked to. Truth be told, they are still trying to figure it out. Thankfully however, Aquilani will be able to partake in pre-season activities this time around since it’s much easier to take risks in matches that do not mean anything hopefully that will give Rafa the leeway to experiment more in the build up to the upcoming season so Liverpool can get things right.

  3. Aquilani can now be properly assessed over the coming season. He is now fit and training from pre-season onwards and a proper team building exercise can help to produce one of our better starts – and perhaps we might even score a few goals?

  4. When he got to play, he looked promising, but he most certainly was not the player Liverpool needed. It didn’t help that Rafa insisted on playing Lucas so much. That donkey-legged waste of space doesn’t know how to make an offensive pass to save his life. Aquilani would have been better served if Rafa had set up with Masch (or Lucas in a pinch) playing the lone defensive mid role in front of the back 4, Alberto and Gerrard playing as two attacking mids behind Torres.

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