Alberto Aquilani has been highlighted as one of Rafa Benitez’s biggest transfer flops. The Xabi Alonso/Aquilani saga of last summer represents a good example of mismanagement by Benitez but Aquilani is not a bad player. As with any change of manager it is difficult to say what will happen but if Roy Hodgson is as good at getting the best out of players as he is supposed to be then keeping Aquilani would be a good move. With a good pre-seaon and his injury problems finally behind him he could be a key player this year. I believe Aquilani is best utilised as an advanced central midfielder playing closer to the strikers than the defence. He wasn’t a scorer of a huge number of goals at Roma but Torres, Jovanovic and Gerrard should all benefit from playing with a fit and confident Aquilani.
Aquilani’s best game came in a 4-1 win against a poor Portsmouth side when he scored one and made another. That day Benitez felt sufficiently emboldened to play Aquilani, Babel, Maxi, Gerrard and Torres from the start, representing a 5 man attack that was too much for the Premier League’s worst team. Aquilani played an important role in linking the midfield and much of the attacking play and chances went through him. He certainly didn’t play as well as that again and wasn’t even in the squad for the next game against Lille and only on the bench for the next league game against Manchester United.