It looks as though Alberto Aquilani is heading back to Liverpool, at least for the time being, as Juventus have announced that they are unwilling to pay the price required for them to take up the option of making Aquilani’s loan deal permanent. Reports say that Juventus have until the 14th May to make this deal permanent. So, unless something happens in the coming weeks, when the loan deal expires, Aquilani will be back at Liverpool.
This gives Liverpool a bit of a dilemma. What shall they do with him?
That’s not an easy question to answer. Opinion seems to be divided on whether Aquilani should be given another chance to prove himself at Liverpool, or that the club should cut their losses and sell him for as much money as they can get. The trouble is, both arguments are equally valid.
Aquilani was signed for a reported £18m (with add-ons), after the sale of the hugely popular Xabi Alonso. Rightly or wrongly, he was seen to be Alonso’s replacement, and coupling that with the big price-tag at a time when Liverpool didn’t have money to burn, big things were expected of him.
Unfortunately, he had a horrible injury record (he’d only started 27 Serie A games in the previous 3 seasons) and arrived at the club injured, missing the entire pre-season, but the Liverpool medical staff were confident that they had got to the bottom of his injury and could get him healed and playing quickly.
That didn’t happen. After a brief substitute appearance in the Carling Cup in October, it was hoped Aquilani was finally ready, but Aquilani didn’t start a game until December. As expected with any new signing, it took a while for him to find his feet, but towards the end of the season he started to show glimpses of his quality. He ended the season making 28 appearances in all competitions, scoring 2 and making 6 assists.
He was sent to Juventus, where he has had a successful (and injury-free) season. This has led some fans to believe he should be brought back, as he seems to be over his injury problems. However, the pace and physical demands of Serie A football are far lower than the Premier League, so until Aquilani completed a season of English football the questions about whether or not he can stand up to the rigours of the Premier
League will not go away.
Lets look at some of the arguments for and against keeping Aquilani.
Arguments for keeping Aquilanifficeffice" />
· Aquilani is a fabulous passer of the ball and would add some creativity to a Liverpool team that has been lacking in that department for a long time. The prospect of a fit, confident, Aquilani at his best playing the defence-splitting passes to Luis Suarez on one of his mayhem-inducing runs is a very attractive one indeed.
· Aquilani would give Liverpool more options to their midfield, which has a lot of similar players at present. Aquilani offers something a bit different to many of the other players and would allow Liverpool to play more attacking football.
· There’s an element of ‘better the devil you know’ about Aquilani. Liverpool will look to strengthen central midfield in the summer, so Aquilani being kept at the club would save the club a transfer fee, and also save the club the risk of a new signing, such as Charlie Adam, fitting in.
· Some fans feel that Aquilani was never given a fair chance to show what he can do. So there is an argument that it would be wrong to write off Aquilani before he’s given a proper chance to prove his worth.
· With Liverpool’s dark financial days seemingly behind them, not backing down over the asking price of Aquilani would show that Liverpool are back to being major players in the transfer market.
Arguments for selling Aquilani
· It is hard to see where Aquilani would feature in this current Liverpool team. It’d be a straight fight between him and Raul Meireles for a first-team spot and Meireles looks to have that spot nailed down. We do not have the luxury of being able to leave a player who cost that much on the bench long-term, so it could be a valid argument that Aquilani is a luxury rather than an essential and can Liverpool really afford such an expensive luxury?
· Aquilani will need time to settle in to Liverpool as his Reds career has been so stop-start. Will he be given that time by the fans? Also, let’s say things don’t work out. That would mean Aquilani would be sold the following summer, but his price in the meantime will have plummeted, so is it worth losing even more on Aquilani on the off-chance he turns his career round?
· Aquilani looks good in possession when he has time and space, but he looked terrified when pressed and regularly coughed up possession. He also cannot tackle, and Liverpool already has the non-tackling Raul Meireles, so will they be willing to have two central midfield players who can’t tackle?
· Yes, Aquilani has had a good season back in Serie A. But can he stand up to the demands of a Premier League season?
· There was never a real explanation given as to why he was sent on loan in the first place. The official line was to get more games under his belt and to get his fitness back. Was that really the case? Or, was the player sent away because the club wanted his wages off the books and/or needed the loan fee? Or, did Aquilani ask for the move himself?
· There are also the player’s own feelings to consider. Who knows how well Aquilani settled in England? He admitted struggling to learn English and that he didn’t like the weather, so it’s perfectly plausible to suggest that a return to Italy would be his preference, and it’s pointless keeping a player at the club who’d rather be elsewhere.
So, there are perfectly good reasons for Liverpool to keep Aquilani, just as there are for Liverpool to keep him. What’s your view?