Having signed with the task of filling the void left by kop favourite Xabi Alonso, big expectations were weighed on the shoulders of Italian playmaker, Alberto Aquilani. Having joined already injured, he endured a frustrating start to his Anfield career, later loaned out to Juventus by Roy Hodgson. But returning to England with a full season under his belt, should ?Il Principino? be given the chance to prove himself at Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish?
There is no doubting Alberto Aquilani?s quality. Assured on the ball with an eye for a pass, the Italian has the ability to dictate play and the creative flair to penetrate openings in even the best defences. This was again proven last season in Italy, but fans in England have rarely caught a glimpse of what the playmaker can do. Impressive performances towards the end of his first season against the likes of Portsmouth and Atletico Madrid were not enough to convince Hodgson that he had a part to play – instead shipping him off and signing Christian Poulsen in his place.
Whilst Aquilani?’s quality has rarely been questioned, it?s his fitness troubles that are of concern. Although the playmaker notched up 33 appearances for Juventus last season, it was the first time he?d started over 20 league games since 2005.
Dubbed an ?Anfield Misfit? by the press, he had been touted to leave Liverpool this summer, with a move to Italy his most likely destination. Now however, it seems there could be a place for the playmaker in Liverpool?s already crowded squad.
After impressive performances against Guangdong and a Malaysian XI, it has been widely debated on whether he should be sold at all. Aquilani was undoubtedly man of the match today, albeit against a team of unknowns. His vision was evident, illustrating the ability to cut through defences with some neat touches and incisive passing, playing a key part in 3 of the goals.
Liverpool owner John Henry seems to think he has a future at Anfield, earlier offering the Italian a lifeline on Twitter. He wrote, ?“One missing link last year: Aquilani?.too much talk of them [Aquilani and N?gog] somewhere else.”
Having already signed Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam, it is probably still likely that Aquilani is to be moved on by Dalglish, even though he is an admirer of the Italian. But with three years left on his contract, I think it would be shame to see him go. Others my disagree, but having impressed at Juventus last season, letting Aquilani go for a cut price would be a mistake.
With Poulsen thought to be heading for the exit door and rumours of a possible departure for Raul Meireles, Liverpool?s £17million man could still have a point to prove. With a passing accuracy of 80% in Serie A last season, Aquilani could well fit into Dalglish?s system nicely – and we all know Damien Comolli loves his facts. Loan moves for Shelvey and Spearing would, in my opinion prove positive for their development and in turn make room for Alberto.
Should Aquilani leave Liverpool this summer, his name will forever be used as ammunition to attack Rafa Benitez?s record in the transfer market. Should Dalglish decide to keep him though, he could prove to be a revelation this coming season. Wherever the future of Alberto Aquilani lies, my trust is completely with King Kenny.
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