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Scouting Report: Javier Aquino Liverpool's Adam Lallana Transfer Alternative?

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Adam Lallana of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Stoke City at St Mary's Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMay 15, 2014

Liverpool's first summer transfer window target is Adam Lallana of Southampton, per BBC Sport. If the proposed move collapses, Javier Aquino of Villarreal is a suggested alternative, so here is a scouting report on the 24-year-old Mexican international. 

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 06: Javier Ignacio Aquino (2nd L) of Villarreal CF competes for the ball with Alhassane Bangoura alias Lass (2nd R) of Rayo Vallecano de Madrid and his teammates Roberto Tashorras (L) and Alejandro Galvez (R) during the La Liga mat
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

 

Overpaying For Lallana 

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is willing to spend £20 million to sign Lallana, per ESPN FC.

Lallana is a technically brilliant, two-footed, high-football IQ player who matches Rodgers' philosophy of free-flowing football. But £20 million plus for Lallana, a 26-year-old not projected to be a weekly Liverpool starter, is an exorbitant fee to pay. 

The failure of Iago Aspas, a star at Celta Vigo, is an example of how players without a Dirk Kuyt-esque mentality flop at big clubs. The background story to Aspas' transfer was Luis Suarez and his minders trying to force a move away.

Suarez went on a tangent about the English paparazzi, per ESPN FC, and then spoke about the lack of UEFA Champions League football, per Sky Sports, as reasons to quit Rodgers' project.

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JULY 20:  Iago Aspas of Liverpool in action during the match between the Indonesia XI and Liverpool FC on July 20, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia.  (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Aspas was meant to be a poor man's Suarez.

Except Liverpool owner John W. Henry and brass made it clear Suarez was not going anywhere, even shamelessly breaching his contract, per James Pearce at the Liverpool Echo.

Consequently, Aspas found himself in an unaccommodating situation. He did not mentally adjust from being the star at Celta to just another player at Liverpool. 

It is the "big fish in a small pond" effect where Aspas, a player with world-class skill, is more adept at a smaller club like Celta than a major club such as Liverpool.

Could this also be the case with Lallana? 

League OnlyAspas 2012-13Lallana 2013-14
   
Starting %10097.4
Goals129
Shots Per Goal8.57.8
Assists76
Key Passes Per Game2.01.9
Pass Completion %77.384.6
   

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino deserves more credit for Lallana's transformation. 

"We haven't seen a player like that in this country for a long time," Pochettino said, per FourFourTwo. "I am always telling him [Lallana] that he has the characteristics of a Spanish player and he has the skills of an Andres Iniesta, Xavi or [Cesc] Fabregas."

Pochettino turned Lallana into Southampton's first option. 

At Liverpool, once the ball crosses into the attacking half, everything goes through Suarez. The idea of stripping away Lallana's independence and burdening him with a £20 million plus fee is perilous.

This is where Aquino comes in. 

 

Positives

Aquino is a 5'6", 130-pound right winger who started 54.8 percent of La Liga games he was involved in for Villarreal, so he can seamlessly switch into a role as one of Suarez's supporting cast. 

Aquino stretches the field as a conventional winger or can move infield as a shuttler in a 4-4-2 diamond.

Source: Marca.com.

Aquino is explosive, possesses straight-line speed, smoothly shifts into top gear and runs at opposing players. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Against Barcelona, Aquino sped down the right flank and delivered a perfect cross for Manu Trigueros to head past Jose Manuel Pinto. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Aquino has demonstrated potential as a finesse passer, like playing in Giovani dos Santos after getting inside of Almeria's defence, and completing an incisive pass to Mario against Real Madrid

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Aquino is a rugged, tough and gritty footballer, who bounces off challenges as Razvan Rat will tell you. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com.
 Aquino Yaya Toure
   
Height5'6"6'3"
Weight130 lbs198 lbs
Starting %54.8100
Tackles Per Game2.31.5
   

Aquino is pound-for-pound one of the most robust players in Europe's elite leagues. His work-rate is exceptional. 

Examples range from sliding in to deny Real Madrid's Marcelo possession, making a headed goal line clearance to stop Almeria's Angel Trujillo from scoring and intercepting a cross-field pass from Osasuna's Francisco Punal.  

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Source: Squawka.com.

Source: Squawka.com.

Source: Squawka.com.

 

Negatives

Aquino is a one-dimensional winger heavily reliant on acceleration. His limited attacking productivity is a red flag: one goal and five assists from 31 league games. 

Source: Squawka.com.

He is an erratic shooter who lacks poise in front of goal; that's why he failed to convert 94.1 percent of goalscoring chances, per Squawka.com.

Aquino is inconsistent and can disappear from games like when he completed 14 passes in 90 minutes against Real Valladolid, per Squawka.com.

 

Bottom Line

If Rodgers and managing director Ian Ayre fail to sign a world-class footballer, go for the role player who can fortify squad depth. 

Recklessly spending £20-plus million on Lallana, an undisputed starter at Southampton, and expecting him to naturally thrive in a secondary role at Liverpool is a reach. 

An alternative to Lallana is Aquino, a Rodgers-type target: under-the-radar, team-oriented and a quick decision-maker. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com

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