06 August 2009

For the love of God, don’t call him Aquaman

The main reason I hate writing during the transfer window is it prompts even more uninformed opinion than usual. I try to have at least some observation and statistics to back up my other “analysis.”

Consequently, I’m hesitant to write too much about Alberto Aquilani or define the player before he plays for Liverpool. I simply haven’t seen enough of him, let alone the unknown that surrounds every foreign player coming to the Premiership.

However, and unsurprisingly, I’ve got a few thoughts and concerns.

The first option, with a minimum of fuss. This deal was announced one day after Alonso’s sale. One day. I don’t think Rick Parry completed a single task in a day. Granted, this was obviously in the works given Alonso’s protracted saga (which, the more I read, the more I’m convinced took so long because Benitez was fully content to wait until Madrid succumbed to the asking price), but there was no hesitation once the Spaniard was sold. Rafa picks a player, Rafa gets the player. That buys Aquilani a lot of leeway with me.

Aquilani plays further forward than Alonso. I touched upon this in earlier speculation, and all that I’ve read, the YouTube video’s I’ve subjected myself to, Benitez’s recent comments, and that different looking 4-1-4-1 in the last friendly make me suspect it even more. Aquilani seems likely to force some sort of change in tactics. I assume he will play deeper for Liverpool than he did for Rome, in an attempt to give him that much more time on the ball before he’s closed down, but some change is likely. And this isn’t a season where Liverpool will have much time or patience for experimentation.

Yes, I’ve seen his appearance record too. League appearances with Roma (since ’04-05): 29, 24, 13, 21, 14. Some of that is down to having Totti, De Rossi, and Pizzaro in front of him, but he has a reputation for being frequently injured. As he’s recovering from ankle surgery now, we’re not likely to see him play until September at best. We’ll see how his medical goes, but Benitez hasn’t been afraid to take a gamble on players with a “history” of injuries – Aurelio and Degen pop immediately to mind. However, and it’s a rather big however, both of those were free transfers. This deal falls somewhere between £15-20m. A slight discrepancy. How much you worry probably depends on how much you trust Rafa, but despite my sycophancy, I’m still wary.

It’s a small sample, but… Liverpool hasn’t had the best history with Italians, although that includes all of two players over 107 years. Reserve goalkeeper Daniele Padelli’s stint in ’06-07 was ignominious at best – a lone start in the last game against an already-relegated Charlton saw the stopper concede twice in a 2-2 draw. Dossena seemed all but on his way out before Aurelio’s injury, and even afterward, rumors of a deal with Napoli appeared around the same time as Arbeloa’s sale. But now I really don’t expect him to be sold. I’ve no idea if the two are friendly off the pitch (having both played for the national team), but as an American who’s lived abroad, I can attest that it’s nice to have a countryman around sometimes.

So, welcome to Liverpool, Alberto. Make us dream.


Anonymous said...

Hopefully he will be a success 4 us...nice post nate ;)

epiblast said...

I hoping for the best, but am leary about his injury problems. I have hope that we may still see Steven Defour in a Reds strip this season.

muffins said...

Good one, nate.

Fan Futbol said...

The thing that worries me the most, by far, is the injury-proneness. Spending 20m for a fellow to play 12 matches would be a complete and utter disaster.

The thing that pleases me the most is that if Aquilani turns out to be awesome, I'll get to call him "Awesome Alberto Aquilani," or "AAA." Which will be fun.


Mike Georger said...

How about Seaman?

Anonymous said...

Almost all players have injury problems, including our 2 stars. And every transfer is a gamble - even sure things like Keane. His ankle just makes the odds a bit lower. If he passes the medical, which I'm sure he will, I trust he will be ready and sooner than we think.

What we needed last year was more offense, specifically in the middle of the pitch. Rafa likes crossing in the box, something we did copiously last season. It often did not get us results. Having Xabi out and Aquilani in fixes this immediately, at least on paper. He's faster and more of a scoring threat. I would rather have Xabi back but since we got a ridiculous price for him I'm trusting Rafa on this buy.

Still need a forward though.


Ace Cowboy said...

You said it best, Nate. But I'll add two points.

1. The guy's got weird eyes, no?
2. He better not be a Guinea Rosicky.

Good luck, sir.

Mike Georger said...

Ace I noticed that as well, his left eye appears to be crossed. Saw the pictures of him at the airport today and he looked like a deer in headlights but looking at two different cars.

Mike Georger said...

Shocked (SHOCKED!) that the media is acting like him being out with the ankle surgery is a surprise and the team didn't know about it.

Anonymous said...

Well, from what i've seen of Aquilani, and I'll admit it isn't very much, he has a cool finish and is fairly attack minded. Seeing as Liverpool only lost the title because they tied one or two games when they should have scored, adding some attack done the middle seems good.

The one thing I'm getting nervous about is too much attack and not enough defense. Defense wins championships. With the addition of Johnson who is an attacking fullback and the replacement of Alonso, who was a deeper lying, defensive-minded midfielder, I am afraid we may be more exposed at the back. Something to consider.