Should Liverpool Offload Alberto Aquilani?
Alberto Aquilani, a product of AS Roma's youth set-up, failed to make a telling impression in his first season at Liverpool after a big money move from his youth club Roma in the summer of 2009.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez reportedly paid a sum close to £20m for the Italian midfielder. That was serious cash. However, the risk involved in this deal was relatively high simply because Aquilani's injury record was pretty average.
He has talent, make no mistake about that, but his durability was not yet proved. Also, he hasn't played for too many clubs other than Roma, hence adaptability was also under the scanner.
He had been consistently sitting out with injuries for the past couple of years which discouraged big clubs from making a substantial bid for signing him. But that didn't stop Benitez.
Eventually, Benitez decided to try him in the tumultuous Premier League. Benitez should have realised that his physical stature was not recommended for a league that was dominated by Martin Taylors and Ryan Shawcrosses.
However, the gutsy Spaniard is a brave Champions League winning manager so whatever he does must be appreciated. As always, fans backed him.
Benitez, riding high after accumulating the maximum points by a second placed team in the history of the Premiership, convinced fans that one or two signings would be enough to take that last step, which was winning the League.
He appeased the fans by signing Glen Johnson and Aquilani. But actually the need of the hour was another striker and a strong attack minded midfielder to shield Gerrard.
Slowly, with the arrival of Aquilani, injuries became the new buzzword at Anfield. Aquilani himself was injured, and it took months for him to make a complete recovery and start his first game for the Merseyside club. But it was too little too late.
By the time he returned, Liverpool were ousted from the Champions League and were languishing outside the top 4 in the domestic league. He started games on a regular basis at the fag end of the season, though with little impact.
So, as expected, he wasn't really good enough to withstand the gruelling waves of the Premiership.
Now even Benitez would accept that one of the mistakes that he had committed in the just concluded season was Aquilani. The margin for error was very little considering the budget constraints at Anfield.
So, Benitez should have acted responsibly by signing a more reliable and risk-free option. In hindsight it's easier to judge a person's faults, but in Aquilani's case, it was predicted even before confirming the transfer to England. He's only fit to play in an artistic league like the La Liga, or a relatively slower league like the Serie A.
So, what is right for Liverpool and Aquilani now? Liverpool are strangled by ever-escalating debts, and with the take-over not really materialising, there is a need to sell players.
Torres and Gerrard will obviously fetch chunks of money. But they're the back-bone, and it's suicidal to sell them without back-ups.
Another option to improve the situation is reducing the wage-bill. Aquilani's wage is believed to be in the region of £70k/week and that is huge when you're sure that he's not going to stay fit for the whole campaign. Hence, Liverpool should feel lucky if they can scrap Aquilani's "massive" wage out of their chart.
Having said that, Liverpool would never recoup their £20m that they had paid to Roma, not even half of that sum. With Juventus and Fiorentina ready to take him back to Italy, Liverpool needn't have to worry about potential buyers.
This deal will go through, if and only if Liverpool are willing to accept a hefty loss. Another option is to keep Aquilani for another season and gamble with his hefty wage. It's a difficult decision to make. The former seems more likely with Liverpool in desperate need for additional funds to ignite a resurgence.
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