Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani is expected to be confirmed as a Liverpool player by the end of the day after he undergoes a medical and completes personal terms on an Â£18million move from Roma.
He is a direct replacement for Xabi Alonso, who finalised his dream Â£30million move to Real Madrid yesterday afternoon.
Aquilani is expected to play a big part in Italy’s World Cup 2010 campaign in South Africa next season and is adored by the Roma faithful in Italy’s capital.
But with Serie A regarded not as exciting as it used to be, many English football fans don’t know much about the 25-year-old. So what do this morning’s back pages make of Rafa Benitez’s latest aquisition?
Well the first thing I saw when sifting through this morning’s nationals was that Aquilani has a few injury problems. He’s got an ankle injury right now – which always confuses me how players with injuries manage to pass medicals. Reports James Ducker in The Times:
Aquilani is recovering from surgery he had on his right ankle in May and his tenure at Roma has been blighted by injury problems. He has played only 73 games in three seasons for Roma and his last appearance came as a substitute on March 11, against Arsenal in the Champions League.
Hmm… that’s not what I want to hear.
But The Telegraph pick up a more positive note on our forthcoming playmaker with Rory Smith writing this pen picture:
Elegant, stylish and creative, he plays deeper than Totti but shares the traits that have made the latter a star, rather than the snarling efficacy of immediate predecessor at Roma’s academy, Daniele De Rossi.
Smith goes on to point out that Aquilani’s talents have been spotted by Liverpool’s rivals before with Arsenal and Chelsea keen to sign him when he was still a youth player.
However Smith brings up Aquilani’s injury record later in his article too, which seems a tad worrying. He continues:
oncerns mount, however, when it comes to his injury record. He can control tempo like Xabi Alonso, the man he will replace, and his passing range matches the Spaniard’s but will his body cope with the rigours of the Premier League?
Aquilani in action against Arsenal in the Champions League earlier this year
Andy Hunter of The Guardian says Aquilani’s injury is likely to force him to miss the start of the season – which also rules out the expected cameo at this Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Atletico Madrid at Anfield.
He is not expected to be fit for the start of the new Premier League season, which begins for Liverpool at White Hart Lane on 16 August, and BenÃtez will have to be convinced of the Italian’s fitness to complete the transfer.
Sam Wallace of The Independent takes a different approach to reporting Aquilani’s imminent arrive in Liverpool by suggesting that in Italy there are rumours Aquilani owns a marble statue of former Italian facist dictator, Benito Mussolini.
Arriving in a city famous for its left-wing, working-class culture, Alberto Aquilani will hope that one embarrassment in particular can be put behind him as quickly as possible. Last year Liverpool’s new Â£20m signing admitted a grudging admiration for Italy’s former fascist dictator Benito Mussolini which might yet take some explaining to his new fans.
Aqualini stepped around the subject when he was interviewed about the accusations last year, suggesting his uncle was indeed the fan of Mussolini.
Whatever the case, Wallace continues to add there’s no doubting his ability on the pitch.
Aquilani is right-footed and a good passer of the ball with a decent shot on him. As with all Benitez’s signings, he will have to surrender to his manager’s way of doing things. “Alberto has a winning mentality and great experience in both Serie A and the Champions League,” Benitez said last night. Aquilani has the makings of a great Liverpool midfielder ‘“ though he might not want to take any more advice from his right-leaning uncle.
And finally, Wallace points out that Aquilani will also bring a new WAG to the Premier League. His girlfriend is Italian actress Michela Quattrociocche (pictured).