Liverpool's Alberto Aquilani has joined AC Milan on a season long loan with the option to buy provided he makes 25 appearances. It's a real shame, because there is no doubting the quality that the Italian possesses. Had things gone differently when Roy Hodgson was in charge, we may well be talking about "The Little Prince" as a future Anfield legend at this point.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing of all is that the problem has not been solved, only prolonged, by the deal not being made permanent.
The midfielder said,
"I am delighted to have arrived here. This is a leap in my career. I have come to Milan to do well. I have different characteristics to (former AC Milan midfielder) Andrea Pirlo but this is a further responsibility for me. I believe I can play in all positions in midfield. The clause of making at least 25 appearances? It's not a problem for me and I'm not thinking about it. I will do everything possible to earn the trust of the club."
There's no denying Aquilani's talent but his situation has been very complicated in the last few seasons.
It's clear that Alberto had a strong desire to remain in Italy and who can blame him? The 27-year-old has just had a new baby and enjoyed a fine season at Juventus, cementing a place on the Italian national team in the process.
Obviously feeling unwanted by Roy Hodgson's decision to loan him out, Alberto most likely never had any real desire to return to Merseyside, where, based on previous experience he perhaps thought he wasn't valued so highly and therefore wasn't guaranteed first team football.
When he did return, it appeared the club were willing to give him a chance, but soon realized his heart wasn't set on Liverpool and they brought in replacements. Aquilani, facing the prospect of a very competitive midfield and with interest from Fiorentina and later AC Milan growing, decided it would be better for his international career to move home.
There is no doubt in my mind that had Aquilani stayed on and fought for his place at Liverpool, fitness permitting, he would have gone on to become a great player for us.
His detractors point to him being too slow and not physical enough as evidence that he wouldn't succeed in England. But many players: Modric, Van der Vaart, Deco, Fabregas, Nasri and Silva to name a few, have shown that quick thinking, vision and a bit of skill can more than make up for it in this league.
In terms of raw talent alone, Aquilani is up there with the best at our club but there is little point in keeping someone who doesn't want to be there.
Despite the quality of his performances in pre-season there was an obvious lack of desire to play for the shirt, most notably against Valencia, where his moments of magic were largely overshadowed by a poor work ethic.
One thing to remember is this is not Kenny Dalglish's fault. We almost certainly wouldn't be losing a player of this calibre had he not been foolishly loaned out by Hodgson.
Dalglish inherited an emotionally damaged player who had every right to feel angry and push for a move back home. As he showed by selling Fernando Torres, Kenny is not afraid to ship out disruptive influences, no matter how good they are.
In the end, the club will be ok, and it's a great move for Aquilani's career. But you can't help but feel Liverpool will lack that little bit of creative edge when key players like Suarez, Meireles and Gerrard are unavailable.
At the moment, for example, both Gerrard and Meireles are injured which leaves Luis Suarez as the chief creative force against Bolton this weekend.
Young Jordan Henderson looks a decent player but so early in his career there are doubts about whether he has the ability to unlock stubborn defences with a moment of magic or take a game by the scruff of the neck.
It will be interesting to see how Liverpool play this weekend with no Meireles, especially if Suarez is substituted off.
Certainly, already this season when Meireles and Suarez haven't played, Liverpool have looked a little short of ideas in the final third.
At Sunderland, Liverpool's play turned sloppy after Suarez tired and was eventually subbed off. At Arsenal, Liverpool struggled to create chances before the double introduction of Suarez and Meireles saw the game saved. At Exeter, Suarez's influence was again noticeable when after he was subbed off Liverpool's attacks became increasingly predictable.
However, only time will tell if Liverpool has enough depth in terms of creativity to get the goals they'll need for a top four finish.
This is just a small tribute to a great player that could've been an Anfield legend had things panned out differently.
At the end of the day, we could end up ruing a missed opportunity, only time will tell.
"I want to pay tribute to the way Alberto has conducted himself during these discussions. Throughout the entire process, his only desire has been to play football and he has put this ahead of any other considerations and at personal cost to himself. We wish him well for the season ahead."
When all is said and done, all we can do is wish the player well too, and hope that both he and Liverpool prosper in the coming season. However, this whole situation is fast becoming a little bit like a bad break up. Both parties need to figure out a permanent solution at the end of the season, so we can all move on with our lives.
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