By Scott Stewart
In the summer of 2009 directly after the loss of ‘the greatest midfielder in the world’ Xabi Alonso, Liverpool proceeded to sign Alberto Aquilani for £20 million pounds. Initially, I remember being very excited signing the young man after having seen him play at AS Roma and score a few goals, as well as see him play for Italy in their World Cup qualifiers. So the Aquilani era began and I called him “Aquiman” after the famous superhero “Aquaman” and he made his debut for the reserves. He finally made his debut for Liverpool in the first team in the Carling Cup loss to Arsenal, coming on as a sub in the 77th minute. He proceeded to play in the Champions League and the Europa League for us, until he began to show his true self. Aquilani became injured and missed several games for Liverpool, a point which arguably ended his career at Liverpool. Rafa Benitez began to get impatient with Aquilani’s injuries calling him a “fake” and admitting he may have made a mistake in signing him. Rafa was dismissed that summer and Roy Hodgson took over. Roy tried to play Aquilani in a few preseason games but admitted that Aquilani wished to return to Italy to regain his ‘true form.’
That poses the question, should Aquilani return to Liverpool?
My answer: No, and here’s why. First off, Aquilani used to be a needed player in the game for Liverpool, but after the addition of a quite in form Raul Meireles, Aquilani’s spot in midfield is covered. A few may argue, well if Meireles is unavailable who shall Liverpool start? Jay Spearing is an excellent young player who has a bright future for Liverpool. Therefore, Aquilani’s spot is no longer available to him because Liverpool have found midfielders who are not injured and in form. Secondly, Aquilani will not produce what Raul Meireles has for LFC. In the 24 games Raul Meireles has featured for Liverpool, he has five goals, three assists, and 20 shots on target, including five goals in the last seven games against opponents like Chelsea and Wolves. In the twelve games Aquilani was actually fit for Liverpool, he had scored 1 goal, had six assists, and only 13 shots on target, in the exact same position that Meireles plays in. In summary, Meireles has produced five more goals and seventeen more chances than Aquilani did in just 12 more games and arguably Meireles hasn’t played in the right position for the 20 games that Roy was the manager, considering the fact that Roy admitted he didn’t know Meireles’s true position. A final argument, Aquilani has proven he cannot thrive in the English game. Forget Liverpool for a second. Aquilani just produces more figures in the Italian game than in the English game. With all due respect to Aquilani, he simply cannot play in England. In the five years he has spent in Italy since the 2005/06 season, Aquilani has started in 59 games in league play for both AS Roma and Juventus and has scored 11 goals in those games. In the nine league games he started for Liverpool, he scored one goal. In Italy, that means Aquilani has averaged a goal around every five or six games. For Liverpool, he averaged one every nine games, because he only played nine league games. He simply puts up better numbers in Italy than he does in England.
Aquilani has had his chances at Liverpool, was too injured to play half of the games according to himself, and didn’t produce great figures for Liverpool in the nine games he’s played for them. In Italy, Aquilani is a different player and his position for LFC is gone now thanks to the likes of Meireles and Spearing. Aquilani has no place at Liverpool any longer. So to Aquilani, thank you for what you contributed but please, stay in Italy. Liverpool FC does not need Aquilani to return.