Alberto Aquilani was brought to Liverpool as a replacement for Xabi Alonso, the Italian had big shoes to fill, but it didn’t work out.
Aquilani was revered as one of the most up and coming midfielders in Europe in 2009 and was considered hot property, so soon after their World Cup triumph, Italian footballers had high stock.
The now 34-year-old has spoken with Gianluca Di Marzio about his career and explained how he rejected offers from Chelsea and Arsenal to join the Reds.
“It was difficult,” Aquilani said. “I was going to England, in a cold city, an important change, but I played with incredible players. [Fernando] Torres, [Javier] Mascherano, [Dirk] Kuyt.”
Aquilani smiled when he was prompted to talk about Steven Gerrard. “One of the greatest I’ve played with. The fact that he was there influenced a lot, I’m not hiding it, he’s a champion,” he said.
Anfield was the Italian’s preferred destination as he turned down a host of European giants. “Every year I received important offers, I said no to Inter and Juventus, with Roma we would decline everything,” he said.
According to campionatoprimavera.com, Aquilani was offered contracts by both Arsenal and Chelsea when he was 17-years-old but wanted to fulfil his boyhood dream of playing for Roma.
“[The year I joined Liverpool] I was injured, Roma had economic problems and had to make an important sale. [Mirko] Vucinic and I had several offers, so we went.
“I hadn’t played for months, I had hurt myself, everything made me think that my adventure in Rome had come to an end. They were forced to sell me, but he didn’t kick me out. I want to reiterate it.
“I was 23, I was very young, my mother would come up and cook amatriciana. [Federico] Macheda was also there, playing at United and we were there. We were Romans repatriated, we spoke in dialect, we were happy.”
Maybe in another life Aquilani could have been a success at Liverpool, he was good enough to somewhat replace Alonso and could have done a job with Stevie, but it wasn’t to be.
The Italian was loaned out twice, to Milan and Juventus, before Fiorentina put in an offer of £1.7million which was accepted by the Reds and his bad dream was over.