How many Italians have plied their trade at Anfield? As far as I know, there have been only three: all signed by Rafa Benitez. There was the young keeper Daniele Padelli, who spent half a season on loan at Liverpool but only played a solitary game before being sent back to Italy. Then there was Andrea Dossena, the left back who came with a fairly decent reputation and some Italy caps, but left having barely got a look in. And then there is Aquilani.
I’m sure that by now, Liverpool fans are tired of seeing his name in the papers, as a story of Aquilani’s doomed transfer has turned into a two year saga, the conclusion of which nobody really knows still. Yet strangely enough, considering the undisguised contempt a lot of fans have shown for the likes of Konchesky and Poulsen, you’ll rarely find anyone making disparaging remarks about the Italian. Perhaps it’s because he has never publicly said the wrong things. Perhaps it’s because most fans still view him as a player of high quality who could make the grade at Anfield. But the view that most people hold is that there is something going on behind the scenes which they don’t fully understand, which has caused the transfer to fail so spectacularly upto this point.
What is the reason a succession of Liverpool managers (and a couple of Juventus ones as well) have shown so little faith in the creative midfielder?
As I see it, there are 6 primary reasons for a club and player to part ways, though I am not sure which of these apply to Aquilani:
1) New manager doesn’t see his value: Rafa Benitez obviously thought so highly of him, he was willing to sign him knowing full well that the player would be out through injury for the majority of the season. Then again, Roy Hodgson barely got a glimpse of his abilities in pre-season before surprisingly sending him out on loan. Kenny Dalglish has publicly stated he wouldn’t mind having him back at Liverpool. He also had a productive season at Juventus, injury-free, so its hard to see why they didn’t take up their option to sign him when they did so for 4 other on-loan players.
2) Lack of fan support: Liverpool fans, in typical fashion, got behind their man before he had even kicked a ball, labelling him the replacement for departed icon Xabi Alonso, and unfurling an ‘Il Principino’ banner at Anfield. Most would still support him to this day.
3) Injury problems: Something he has struggled with throughout his career – but having a full season and a pre-season under his belt should surely have convinced either Juventus or Liverpool to give him a shot.