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:
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.
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.
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.