5 Reasons Why Sevilla-Bound Iago Aspas' Liverpool Career Flopped
Iago Aspas' loan move to Sevilla was confirmed by the Spanish club this week—as per their official website, with quotes translated by This Is Anfield—and Liverpool fans probably won't be expecting to see him back at Anfield again.
Aspas' nightmare first and only season on Merseyside was a combination of failing to live up to expectations, an injury, adapting to the Premier League and facing stiff competition for a first-team place.
He ended the season with just one goal in an FA Cup third-round victory over Oldham Athletic, becoming Liverpool's first No. 9 to never score a league goal.
Here we look at five of the reasons behind Aspas' failed Liverpool career.
Overhyped by Stats?
Perhaps Aspas' Liverpool career was doomed from the start, with football's army of Moneyball-inspired statistician fans reeling off his impressive, but somewhat irrelevant, stats from 2012-13 with Celta Vigo.
For example, Bleacher Report's Allan Jiang on B/R compiled a table comparing shots per game, assists, shots created per game, passing percentage and completed dribbles per game to rank "his offensive statistics are still in the same ballpark as world-class players," such as Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
All very well, but Celta Vigo slumped to a 17th-place finish that season and comfortbaly lost many games on the way. It is easy to use stats to give a false impression of a player's or team's performance.
After starting Liverpool's first three games of the season and assisting Daniel Sturridge's winner during the opening-day match against Stoke City, Aspas made substitute appearances in three of the Reds' next four games before injury struck.
He suffered a torn thigh muscle in training, forcing him out for five weeks, as per Liverpool's official website.
It was a setback Aspas struggled to recover from, with Luis Suarez having returned to the team in the intervening period.
He would make just eight more appearances during the remainder of the campaign after returning to action in December.
From the start, Aspas struggled to adapt to the more physical conditions of the Premier League, having been afforded the luxury of time and space during his days in Spain.
His wiry frame looked out of place against the might of English football's defences, and he was consistently outmuscled in attack.
He constantly looked weak, was unable to maintain possession and lacked match sharpness.
SAS and the Rise of Raheem Sterling
Aspas came to Liverpool at a time when the Reds were about to break into an incredible burst of form built on a relentless and fierce attacking threat made up of an abundance of talent.
Suarez's return from suspension in October revived his partnership with Daniel Sturridge, and "SAS" quickly became "SASAS" with the growth of Raheem Sterling into one of Liverpool's most important players.
Suddenly, there was no way back in for Aspas. Brendan Rodgers offered the Spaniard words of sympathy in March, as per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo:
I feel for the likes of Iago. He works tirelessly every day. He hasn’t got a lot of minutes but he has been brilliantly professional. That indirectly helps the likes of Luis and Daniel.
It’s been hard for some of those guys but they have still committed themselves to help the overall team. I know that ultimately at some stage they will want to play games.
That Corner Kick
Disappointed by the club spending £7 million on an underperforming player, perhaps the final sigh Liverpool fans had with Aspas was a wasted corner kick during Liverpool's 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Anfield in April.
Off the back of an 11-game winning streak and chasing the game at 1-0 down, needing a draw to keep the Premier League title race in their own hands, Liverpool won a corner in injury time.
With the Kop behind the Red shirts piling into the box, Aspas' dreary, low corner was played straight to Chelsea midfielder Willian. Moments later, Jose Mourinho's side killed the game off with a second goal.