Alberto Aquilani could still have a key role to play at Liverpool: Mersey Beat

Why Aquilani's Anfield return would not be the worst outcome for Liverpool



12:13 GMT, 27 April 2012

He has made 28 appearances for Liverpool and scored two goals. He was idolised before even kicking a ball for the club but has not played a competitive game in a Red shirt for almost two years.

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Will he stay or will he go Alberto Aquilani's future at AC Milan is uncertain

As it stands, though, there is ambiguity over the terms of the loan arrangement, with the suggestion that games he has played as substitute only count as ‘half’ appearances. With a handful of matches remaining of the Italian campaign, it appears unlikely Milan will let Aquilani trigger the clause.

When asked about Milan’s actions earlier this week, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish left no doubt he was disappointed with the way Aquilani was being treated. But, in the same breath, he appeared genuinely enamoured over the prospect of welcoming the 27-year-old into his fold again.

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'We have done everything right from our side,’ said Dalglish. ‘However (Milan) want to play it, that is up to them. He is our player. If they don’t want him, (they should) tell the boy. If they don’t want him, it will be disappointing for Alberto but we will have him (back), no problem.’

Liverpool may have no other option – 12 months ago, remember, Aquilani was in a similar position with Juventus but they baulked at paying his 12.5million release clause. Now Milan are reticent about finding the funds for a transfer fee that is less than half that value.

If nobody in Italy wants him, would it be really such a bad thing for Liverpool if he returned to Anfield After all, there is a theory swirling around that he is a better player than some of the midfielders currently at the club and would have made a difference this year.

His attributes are obvious. He is tall and strong, uses the ball well and keeps possession ticking over; he can get forward and has a knack of scoring goals. True, he gives the impression of being brittle and not liking the rat-a-tat-tat speed of English football but it would be wrong to say he lacks ability.

Difficult time: AC Milan are unlikely to trigger Aquilani's clause to make the move permanent

Difficult time: AC Milan are unlikely to trigger Aquilani's clause to make the move permanent

There were glimpses, albeit sporadically, of his talents during the one full season he spent at Anfield and his highlight was a superbly taken goal against Atletico Madrid in a Europa League semi-final but he never gave the impression that he had fully recovered from a serious ankle problem.

The other major problem Aquilani faced was the fact he was brought in to replace Xabi Alonso, who joined Real Madrid. Few could have replicated what that elegant Spaniard did for Liverpool but it was expected he would just slot seamlessly in.

A banner was unfurled on The Kop in his honour depicting him as a Roman gladiator, with the words A hero will rise daubed on it. Every Liverpudlian wanted him to be a success but the turbulence of that campaign dictated otherwise.

Red again Will Aquilani pull on a Liverpool shirt again

Red again Will Aquilani pull on a Liverpool shirt again

Yet still there remains a lingering suggestion that maybe – just maybe – Aquilani will be able to make a significant contribution and with Liverpool having a European campaign to juggle next season, they are going to need plenty of capable reinforcements.

Perhaps, then, that is why Dalglish is not in a hurry to usher Aquilani out of the door. Inevitably there will be speculation linking him with Italian clubs but the way Liverpool’s manager has been speaking, another switch is no foregone conclusion.

'You can’t predict the future but if that is what is going to happen – him coming back here – then it’s no problem,' said Dalglish. 'He came back last year. He’s a really good trainer and a really good lad. There’s no problem whatsoever.'