Liverpool Should Cut Losses and Offload Iago Aspas in January

Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2014

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool replaces Iago Aspas of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Hull City at Anfield on January 1, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Iago Aspas was handed his first start for Liverpool since September in the 2-0 win over Hull at Anfield on New Year's Day but failed to take the opportunity.

The Spaniard's last start, the defeat at home to Southampton, saw him subbed at half-time and it would have been no surprise had he befallen a similar fate again.

Aspas struggled to maintain possession, was clearly lacking match sharpness and looked physically weak again.


Rodgers' Role

Brendan Rodgers needs to take a look at his role in Aspas' poor start at Liverpool though.


LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  Manager Brendan Rodgers of liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on December 15, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The 26-year-old was used frequently as a right-sided attacker at Celta Vigo, cutting inside on his left-foot to good effect. Many supporters assumed this would be his best position at Anfield, effectively replacing Stewart Downing in the side from the end of last season.

But Aspas' opening appearances saw him used in a central role behind Daniel Sturridge. Immediately it was clear his slight frame would struggle with the physical side of the Premier League in a central role; that was certainly the case against Hull.

The Spaniard started the game on the right of the front three but later moved inside, swapping with Luis Suarez. It was a rare occasion to see him in this preferred position and he failed to impress.

Aspas looks extremely lacking of sharpness, due to the lack of football he's played in the last three months. This is where Rodgers needs to look at his role recently.

Aspas returned from injury at the start of December, an unused sub in the away match at Hull.

The following match was the 5-1 hammering of Norwich at Anfield. Once 4-0, you'd think this was an ideal time to bring on Aspas to get some much-needed playing time and perhaps get his first goal for the club. Instead, Rodgers waited until stoppage time and he didn't get a touch.

Similarly, the 4-1 thrashing of West Ham,  5-0 at Tottenham and when 3-0 up against Cardiff all could have provided vital time for Aspas to build his confidence. He was an unused sub in all three.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Curtis Davies of Hull City attempts to clear the ball from Iago Aspas of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Hull City at Anfield on January 1, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Cl
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Yet, in the tougher matches at Manchester City and Chelsea, Aspas was brought on with the team losing 2-1 each time.

Talk about adding pressure to the player already struggling to make an impression. Surely giving him some playing time in easier situations would have been beneficial.

 On the subject of adding pressure, handing Aspas the No. 9 shirt was hardly helpful to his cause.


Ruthlessness Required

Perhaps Rodgers doesn't trust Aspas—he's not completed 90 minutes for the club—or hasn't been impressed with what he's seen since his arrival in the summer.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01:  Iago Aspas of Liverpool battles with Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on September 01, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Therefore, if that's the case, Rodgers needs to be ruthless and cut his losses as soon as possible.

One of the great qualities about Rafa Benitez was that he would often move a player on once he realised he did not fit. The likes of Mark Gonzalez, Jan Kromkamp, Josemi, Fernando Morientes and Gabriel Paletta were given a season and then sold. No need to prolong their misery.

Not all transfers work out; the Liverpool author Paul Tomkins, who devised the Transfer Price Index, calculates that "just a third of all transfers are undeniably successful." Therefore, a manager such as Rodgers should be brave enough to admit this one hasn't worked out and move the player on.



Of course, Aspas could only be allowed to leave should Liverpool be able to bring in a replacement first—otherwise they are left with only Suarez and Sturridge as their forward options.

Swansea have been linked with a move for Aspas by The Mirror newspaper, fuelled by the Welsh side's interest in him in the summer, Michu's injury and his comments recently that he hopes the Swans can sign Aspas on loan.

It's unlikely that Liverpool would be able to sell Aspas and recoup a large amount of the £7 million they paid for him, so perhaps a loan would be the best solution in order to attempt to get the best fee in the summer.



However, there is perhaps one last opportunity for Aspas when Liverpool host Oldham on Sunday.

Rodgers will surely take the FA Cup third-round tie to give Luis Suarez a much-needed rest, and therefore Aspas will get a chance to build on his albeit poor performance against Hull and get the confidence-boosting first goal he craves.

Would it be enough to persuade Rodgers he has a future at Anfield? It doesn't look likely.