Friday Opine: Whither Aquilani & Liverpool

Clap for me...I know what I'm doing...

Our friends over at Yanks Are Coming asked us why Roy Hodgson would cast aside Alberto Aquilani on loan this season when the player might be a revelation for Liverpool’s attack in the middle.

First, let’s look at all the actors popping up on the interior for Merseyside, either at the club or via the transfer rumor grapevine:

Does this man work with Charlie Sheen or Fernando Torres? You make the call...

Javier Mascherano: An energizer bunny of a player who is adept at linking play and tracking back…..and who may or may not be the twin brother of John Cryer.

Alberto Aquilani: The oft-injured jump-the-shark acquisition for Rafa Benitez who dazzled last season…when and only when Liverpool played Burnley

Scott Parker: The West Ham defensive midfielder who is largely ho-hum, but somewhat incredulously seems to be the darling of transfer rumors to big clubs including Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and, of course, Liverpool.

Lucas Leiva: The 20-year-old (former) Twittering bandit who comes with astonishingly high skill, but a little bit of inconsistency. Lucas, by the way, has been a team captain wherever he’s went.

Christian Poulsen: Steady, Danish, 30-year-old and good enough

Jay Spearing: A vivacious tackler and, like Lucas, an on-field leader wherever he’s went. If you put this man’s spirit and acumen in, say, Yaya Toure’s body…it would be lights out.

Steven Gerrard: A man you bears no introduction and seems possible to skirt responsibility for losses at Liverpool whilst being lauded in victory. How do I get that job?

The conundrum facing Roy Hodgson is this? How to–and who to–best deploy as the foundation of his first line of defense and building the attack in the central midfield for the Reds.

First, it is known that Javier Mascherano wants out of England.  You can’t have a player who doesn’t want to be there as a key cog in your starting 11….unless your name is Cesc and you play at Emirates. There’s got be a little fallout there, right?

Here’s the challenge for Hodgson. If he’s losing Masch, as is expected, why would he want to take a very creative player in Aquilani and send him out for the season and maybe beyond…permanently?

A few reasons.

Aquilani at Roma: Willing to bet this aerial maneuver cost him 7 games...

First, Aquilani hasn’t played just under half his club teams games over the last four seasons. He’s brittle–at 26 nonetheless!–and coming into arguably a more physical league than his last one.

Ask Andriy Schevchenko how that went? (Ok, he was maybe over-the-hill…ask Jose Bosingwa who arrived from La Liga or Samir Nasri or Luka Modric…you get the point…). On a team where Aquilani couldn’t get healthy last year and that has players like Torres and Johnson in its employ, does Liverpool need another injury risk?

Second, it’s looking increasingly likely that Roy Hodgson’s going to batten down the hatches in the center of the pitch with two holders (especially if Mascherano goes) and send the wing mids and wide backs (Danny Wilson, Glen Johnson, etc.) up in the attack to support Gerrard, Cole, Kuyt and company. If Gerrard is your CAM or FW, where does that leave Aquilani?

Are you going to pay him to primarily come off the bench? No, you didn’t get him to be Alessandro Diamanti.

Yes Aquilani is Liverpool’s most creative player (I’m no Gerrard fan), but Gerrard (home grown rule or no home grown rule) is and was always staying–especially when an Englishman took over–and Aquilani is a casualty of this.

The bigger mistake than shipping out Aquilana, if a decent fee can be fetched, in my opinion is bringing in Scott Parker.

I'd rather have Ricardo Clark...I'm not kidding...

Scott Parker is a highly hyped English defensive midfielder. In fact, he is so good that when Fabio Capello was unsure about Gareth Barry’s health for the World Cup, he decided he would rather have a not-quite-fit Barry and off-form Michael Carrick in an emergency rather than Parker.

Parker is a creation of the English media, much like Americans hype up a player to be “the difference” only because he hasn’t got a chance (See: Castillo, Edgar and the U.S. leftback role.)

Don’t get me wrong Parker is a fine EPL player, technically sound and team first. What he is not is a difference maker for a top 5 table side….so says Jose Mourinho’s quick jettisoning of him from Chelsea when he took the reins there. Note, Parker was brought into Chelsea just a few months before The Special One.

Oh, and Parker is 29…surely if he was better than sliced bread his mark would have been etched already, no?

Back to the Roman.

Expect to see Alberto and probably Maxi Rodriguez moved out of the side here sometime in the next 6 months.

If Liverpool feel the need for a little more seasoning or strength in the middle of the pitch to add to the triumvirate of Lucas, Spearing (claimed to be part of the first side this year) and now Poulsen, they’d be wise (home grown rule non-withstanding) to either make a play for Nigel DeJong with James Milner’s entrance at City, try to procure the services of a Diarra (Lassana or Mahamadou) that is not the apple of Mourinho’s eye at Read Madrid for a relative cut rate price, or pick-up a journeyman (Jonathan Greening, maybe even Matt Taylor) instead of overspending for Parker.

Our two cents on Aquilani and Liverpool’s midfield.

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11 responses to this post.

  1. Scott Parker just signed a new 5 year contract with the Hammers, he isn’t going anywhere.

    Disagree about your assessment of Parker as well. He is a more fitting match to replace Masch than any of their current options.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/20 at 12:41 PM

      I know on Parker, but rumors are always including his name.

      However Parker is nowhere near Mascherano…a more fitting replacement for Mascherano straightaway is DeJong.

      Reply

      • Difference there is price and wage demands. With Liverpool seemingly heading towards Administration since they can’t get the buyout to go anywhere, the cash simply isn’t there for a straight swap. Guaranteed that Hodgson doesn’t get 100% of any transfer money he gets for selling Masch.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/20 at 12:49 PM

          Oh agreed, but don’t make a mistake on the talent of Parker because he is cheaper.

          I can’t stand Jonathan Greening…one of my least favorite players…but he’s good for 10 games.

          Reply

  2. Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/08/20 at 12:44 PM

    I agree with the Aquilani assessment. He was purchased to replace Alonso, but he’s best suited behind the striker. Once Cole came in, a proven EPL player who is only slightly less brittle than Aquilani, the Italian became surplus to requirements. It’s a shame but Liverpool need the money.

    Liverpool does not need Parker.

    Reply

  3. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/08/23 at 6:16 AM

    Parker was never going to get in the 2004/05 Chelsea starting XI ahead of Makelele or Lampard. He was a squad player there. But you have to remember, Liverpool are no Cheslea.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/23 at 6:25 AM

      Or West Ham though.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/08/23 at 6:38 AM

        That is very true. But points wise, they finished almost in the middle of the two (*slightly* closer to Chelsea)…

        If Liverpool want to improve, they cannot continue to get rid of players like Alonso and Mascherano and replace them with the likes of Aquilani and Parker. But Liverpool have fallen down the pecking order and I don’t see them finishing in the Top 4 for a few seasons. Their arrogance is staggering because they have ‘history and tradition’.

        Reply

        • Posted by John on 2010/08/25 at 9:59 AM

          Right now, most of the true fans just want Liverpool to be a well run team.
          This is not the case.

          With the decisions of Hicks, Gillet, Purslow and Broughton the club is being thrown into the mud.

          It isn’t that LFC didn’t replace Alonso correctly, it is that they don’t have money to replace a player of his caliber.

          The hiring of Hodgson actually makes complete sense because LFC is now the new Fulham. The bosses are attempting to run the club on a budget that doesn’t exist and they need to attempt to keep it in the top flight using players that are decent, not great at many positions.

          Liverpool went from Xabi Alonso, to Mascherano, to Lucas and Poulson. Considering that there are no bidders for the team currently, should the team be taken over on Oct 6th, you can bet that RBS isn’t going to go out and spend money. They are going to liquidate assets to attempt to make their money back.

          Almost every player that Liverpool has been linked with is someone you could see Fulham being linked with recently.

          The Aquilani situation is just another sign of the problems with the club. He SHOULD be given enough time playing with the first string while healthy (something he never was last year). However the club needs to sell him, basically they are giving him a run out with Juventus to get his value up and sell him. This money won’t be used to buy some other player, but will once again be taken back into the club.

          The situation is being spun as “not compatible with the coaching” but I don’t believe that to be the case. They need cheap players, and to sell expensive players. Aquilani has the potential to go for decent money. Then they can go out and “sign” a Joe Cole, sell a few more of their kits because of Ignorant Fan excitement and not ACTUALLY fix the HUGE issues with the club.

          Reply

  4. [...] On Friday, we contributed our thoughts on Roy Hodgson potentially ticketing Alberto Aquilani out of [...]

    Reply

  5. [...] report has ‘Pool looking at Mahamadou Diarra…funny we mentioned that might be the case on Friday. Diarra is better option–pending price–than Scott Parker. That might get some of you [...]

    Reply

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