The Alberto Aquilani headache

Roughly eight months on from Aquilani’s departure, it is looking ever more likely that the former Roma player could be on his way back to Anfield this summer.

It was revealed this week that Juventus have made a €39.5million loss in the first half of the 2010/11 season, meaning they would struggle to fund the purchase of the Italian midfielder on a permanent deal. This sparks the debate, should Aquilani return to Liverpool? Or more importantly, will he want to?

One thing is for sure, the decision to send Aquilani on loan in the first place was a strange one.

Towards the back end of the 2009/10 campaign, Aquilani finally seemed to be finding his feet at Anfield, after a torrid debut season – admittedly mostly due to injury. Finally, the 26-year old playmaker was showing glimpses of why Rafa Benitez splashed out £20 million to sign him. Yet only a few months later, the heir of Benitez, Roy Hodgson, let the Italian leave on loan, with the option for Juventus to ultimately buy.

Even at the time, it was clear that Liverpool were short of midfielders, let alone creative midfielders. Liverpool had already lost the services of Yossi Benayoun earlier that summer, and would also lose Javier Mascherano, who made his inevitable switch to Barcelona. Steven Gerrard apart, we were desperately short of that flair player who could unlock a defence, when all else failed.

In hind-sight, the decision to let Aquilani depart Anfield looks even worse. Joe Cole, the man deemed to solve a few problems on the creative front, has failed to find his best form so far as a Liverpool player. Second to that, despite the signing of Raul Meireles – the one good thing to come out of Hodgson’s reign – we still look short of class in midfield, with players like Christian Poulsen not cutting the mustard. To add to that, now that he seems to have fully recovered from the ankle injury that plagued his first and only season at Liverpool, Aquilani is showing the form that attracted the eye of Benitez in the first place.

As he has proven this season in Serie A, there is no doubt that Aquilani has the potential to be a top quality midfielder.

July 29, 2010 - Skopje, FYROM - epa02266001 Liverpool's player Alberto Aquilani (L) fights for the ball with Rabotnicki player Nikola Gligorov (R) during the qualification soccer match for Europa League between Liverpol FC and FC Rabotnicki in Skopje, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 29 July 2010.

Aquilani has been a key cog in the Juventus side this season. Currently playing in the central midfield role, he has been compared to Paulo Sousa after establishing himself in the Juventus side. He has also been rewarded for his performances this year, by scooping the club’s player of the month award for November.

The question is whether he can repeat the kind of performances he has delivered for Juventus this season, in the Premier League. Supposing he could maintain those high level performances, for Liverpool next year, then he would be a valuable addition to the squad.

In his sole year on Merseyside, there was the suggestion that Aquilani may not be suited to the Premier League style of football. At points he looked off the pace, struggling with the frantic speed and physical nature of the English game. However, Raul Meireles is living, breathing proof that if anyone can get the best out of him, it’s Kenny Dalglish.

The return of the Italian would also provide more depth to our thread-bare midfield. An inventive player, a player who can create something out of nothing, could be just what we need. Liverpool could use his creative traits to help engineer chances for the likes of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll to finish.

Even when he isn’t on the pitch though, the thought of having Aquilani on the bench instead of Christian Poulsen, leaves me much happier.

As much as I think we were wrong to loan him, it does beg the question: has this ship sailed? Reports suggest that Aquilani himself has hinted that he would like to make his move to Juventus permanent. If this is the case, then there is your answer. We should let him go. The last thing Liverpool FC needs right now is a player who doesn’t really want to be there.

If, however, Aquilani wishes to give the Premier League another shot, I for one will welcome him back with open arms. I’ve seen him play in the past, he’s definitely a player who can create something from nothing. For me, that is something we really lack. We’ve missed someone who can cut a team open with a pass ever since Xabi Alonso left. In fact, Alonso has never been replaced. Given time, and if he can stay injury free, Aquilani could be that man. If he wants to be.

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