Alberto Aquilani May Have Finally Found a Home with AC Milan
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Three years ago, it was a player leaving Italian powerhouse AC Milan on a season-long loan who reinvigorated his sputtering career in the comfortable confines of his native country.
Yoann Gourcuff earned rave reviews for his double-winning displays of dominance with Girondins de Bordeaux in 2008-09.
He had never truly fit in with AC Milan, the club he'd moved to as a teen from Rennes, and would never again grace the San Siro pitch after that season, with Bordeaux mustering the €15 million fee necessary to secure his contract after the loan had expired.
Similarly, after moving from AS Roma to Liverpool before the 2009-10 season, Aquilani never truly found his feet in England.
Despite earning widespread praise for his attacking intent during Liverpool's preseason tour this past summer, he looks certain to have spent his last days at Anfield.
Liverpool skipper Kenny Dalglish seemed genuinely sorry to see Aquilani go, but there simply was not enough room for the man they call Il Principo (The Prince) after the myriad of offseason signings made by the club.
It's always a shame when a player never really gets a fair shake, but Aquilani now has an opportunity to enjoy the last years of his footballing prime closer to his family, which had never moved from Italy even when Aquilani was plying his professional trade across the English Channel.
At 27, he has a glorious opportunity to resuscitate a stalled career.
His comeback is already begun.
Aquilani has enjoyed call-ups to the Italian national team recently, and when all is said and done, the Italian style of play may prove to suit him best.
It should, after all, seeing as how he grew up playing it.
He has been immediately inserted into the Rossoneri starting XI, which is looking to offset the offseason loss of long-time playmaking ingenieur Andrea Pirlo to Juventus.
Though they differ somewhat in playing style, many aspects of the two players' games overlap.
Aquilani is coolly composed when on the ball in his central midfield role, and is an excellent distributor.
He does not go for goal at the expense of building play, but when he chooses to let fly from a distance, his shots are well-struck with venomous intent.
After playing 68 minutes in Milan's Serie A opener Friday against Lazio, he should be included in the fold for Tuesday's Champions League showdown against Barcelona.
He possesses the type of ingenuity necessary to succeed against Barcelona's relentless pressing game.
How he holds up against Europe's best will go a long way toward fostering his current personal reclamation project.
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