Kenny Dalglish of Liverpool Needs to Sell but Must Keep Alberto Aquilani

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Kenny Dalglish of Liverpool Needs to Sell but Must Keep Alberto Aquilani
Decision time for Kenny Dalglish. Image from The Guardian

Galatasary's thumping of Liverpool was no surprise given the starting eleven the Reds fielded, but three things became increasingly clear: Alberto Aquilani must stay, Liverpool needs to sell its worst players, and the defense needs strengthening.

The Aquilani transfer saga is likely to drag on until the end of the transfer window.

He looked set to stay when John W Henry tweeted his approval last week, but since then Franco Zavaglia (Aquilani's agent) told Sportitalia that the playmaker is not in Liverpool's plans and he therefore would be seeking first-team football elsewhere.

Who knows what to believe anymore, but there is a very real chance Aquilani will be leaving. Fiorentina are willing to take him out on loan, but Aquilani rejected that offer, favouring a full transfer so as not to end up in the same position next year.

AC Milan are also reportedly monitoring his situation, and they will definitely have the cash to obtain his services if they really want him, especially with Andrea Pirlo moving from the Rossoneri to Juventus.

That being said, Kenny Dalglish may have to rethink his decision about the midfielder now with Steven Gerrard set to be sidelined until September with a groin infection, and groin injuries always seeming to hang around.

Rumours suggest Aquilani wants to go back due to home sickness, but more than likely all he wants is to play regular football.

What it comes down to is that Roy Hodgson made a big mistake loaning him out.

Just as Aquilani was finding his feet in the Premier League, he was shipped off to Juventus, becoming their best player in the process.

Aquilani's talent is undeniable. Anybody with even a vague interest in football can see that, and Dalglish is no fool, so I'm sure he can see it too.

Liverpool now have a solid midfield, but it would lose a fair amount of creativity if the Italian were to go, especially if Gerrard's groin continues to trouble him.

Players with the kind of ability Aquilani possesses separate the great teams from the good teams. They are the keys to unlocking stubborn defences, a quality not unimportant in England, and it would be a mistake to let him go.

I'm not going to go into detail about why I rate him so highly here. If you'd like a more comprehensive look, you can read this post I wrote about him a few weeks ago.

Arguably, were Aquilani to stay, Liverpool's already crowded midfield would be too packed.

That may be true, but there are other players who should be in line to go before him, which would free up some space in the centre of the park.

Milan Jovanovic and Christian Poulsen, for instance, are almost certainly leaving.

Joe Cole tries hard, but he appears to have lost the plot with regards to kicking a football.

It pains me that Cole, despite being on even higher wages than Aquilani while showing a tenth of the talent he once possessed, might get another chance while Aquilani will be let go to star in someone else's midfield.

Maxi Rodriguez, despite showing what a good little player he is, has already said he wants to leave, and with Downing now in the frame, his appearances may be limited anyway.

Jay Spearing will probably be needed as cover for Lucas, but Jonjo Shelvey could benefit from a loan move away.

Were those players to leave, that leaves Downing, Meireles, Gerrard (if fit), Adam, Henderson, Lucas, Spearing, Kuyt (when played there), and Aquilani all competing for a spot in the midfield.

However, competition for places is not unhealthy. No one can foresee injuries, so it will help to have quality backups in place.

Even if there aren't injuries, if those players were to stay, we'd have a stronger bench than we've had in years.

Certainly Meireles, Gerrard, and Henderson have all shown they are versatile enough to be moved to the right or left of midfield, which could reduce the competition for a central midfield place.

Then again, Aquilani could go, and though Liverpool wouldn't be screwed by any stretch of the imagination, they would certainly lose that special something that he brings.

That said, midfield isn't the only area that Liverpool need to shed kilos in.

Liverpool have conceded 12 goals in four matches and, barring Galatasary, that was against weak opposition, with Doni helpless as his defense repeatedly crumbled in front of him.

It must be remembered, though, that Liverpool have rarely played their strongest team for a full 90 minutes, so we can't really gauge where they're at.

However, If they're serious about a return to the top of the table, they need to shift the dead weight and bring in one or two reinforcements on defense.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos frustrates with his decision making, and although he is a presence in the air, at 33 it's time for a pleasant parting of ways.

Philip Degen has been out of favour for a while now, and after spending last season on loan at Stuttgart, he will more than likely see the exit.

Insua is a decent left back, who—let's not forget—is only 22, but left-back has been a problem area for some time.

Enrique, Perreria, and Jansen have all been linked, and any of those would be an upgrade from what the club have already got, although Insua would be useful as backup while he continues his development.

There are also question marks over centre back.

Daniel Agger is world class but only seems to be able to manage about twenty games a season these days.

Jamie Carragher is Jamie Carragher—solid, dependable, and no-nonsense. However, he's 33, and it's questionable how much longer he can keep playing at this level.

Then, of course, there is Martin Skrtl, the only defender to start 38 games last season. However, like Kyrgiakos he seems to suffer from brain malfunctions at critical moments.

In this situation, I'm not sure Liverpool need to dip into the transfer market. Martin Kelly has all the right qualities to succeed as a centre back, but if a player like Diego Godin wants to come in, it certainly wouldn't do any harm.

With all that being said, perhaps it's a good thing Liverpool's weaknesses have been so heavily exposed in preseason. It couldn't be clearer that some players just aren't good enough to be there, and it's obvious what needs to happen at the club in the remainder of the transfer window.

Tomorrow against Valerenga Liverpool have a chance to field something that's closer to their strongest lineup and prove that the problems are not merely artificial.

The players that have been brought in this summer need to put in performances worthy of their price tags, both for their own confidence and for the confidence of the whole team going into the opening match against Sunderland on August 13th.

If given the chance, I'm sure Alberto Aquilani will once again prove to be Liverpool's best player against Valerenga.

Whatever happens tomorrow, I doubt it can get much worse than what happened in Istanbul.

Surely, there's no place but up from here.

 

You can follow me on Liverpool Football Blog or on Twitter @liverpoolfcblog

 

 


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