Liverpool replace Alonso with Aquilani

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

Xabi Alonso

Liverpool’s long running transfer wrangle over the sale of Xabi Alonso came to a close yesterday as the club finally agreed to the transfer of the Spaniard to Real Madrid.

Alonso passed his medical yesterday and met his fellow team mates at the training ground. It has proved to be a good bit of business for Rafa Benitez, who managed to rake in £30 million from the sale of his defensive midfield maestro.

The former Real Sociedad star had made it known to the Anfield hierarchy that he wanted to leave Anfield. Benitez was unwilling to allow Madrid prise one of his star assets from his grasp without paying big money.

It brings to an end a frantic summer of big spending by Real Madrid as they close their withered cheque book. In total the Spanish club spent a staggering £220 million in order to compete with treble winners Barcelona.

Despite Florentino Perez’s ambitious transfer strategy, online betting companies still place the Catalan giants as favourites to retain their La Liga title.

The loss of Alonso is a significant one for Liverpool. He was key to Liverpool’s title challenge last season, and his departure leaves a gaping hole in Benitez’s midfield. But Rafa has moved quickly to fill the midfield void.

Roma midfielder, Alberto Aquilani is the man Benitez has signed to replace Alonso. The 25-year-old Italian is an attack-minded midfielder who is blessed with an eye for goal and an accomplished passer – he appears to have all the attributes necessary to succeed in the Premier League.

He has signed a five-year deal earning up to £85,000 a-week. Aquilani will set the Liverpool coffers back £20 million with the transfer subject to him passing a medical at Melwood later this week.

Indeed the Italian international hasn’t played for Roma since he participated in the Champions League second round tie against Arsenal in March. He is still recovering from an ankle operation he underwent in May and subsequently would miss the start of the Premier League campaign.

Aquilani will prove a more offensive midfield option compared to Alonso. In addition he is more mobile than the Spaniard who often lumbered around the pitch. The Italian is a player who likes to get in the box and score goals.

He was frequently injured during his tenure at Roma and as a result, questions will inevitably be asked whether the player can adjust to the ferocious pace of the English game. If Benitez can keep the Italian fit then Aquilani could prove a key to the club’s title push this season.

Benitez insists Aquilani will be a hit in England and the signing will ‘excite’ Liverpool fans. He said: “He is a player with the quality we are looking for. He can play a little bit higher than Javier Mascherano – maybe between him and Steven Gerrard.”

“He is a good passer, the final ball is good, and he also works. If he can settle down properly in England he can be a very good addition. I think the signing should excite the fans.”

The Italian embodies many of the traits that Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard possesses. Aquilani rejected the lure of English football at the tender age of 16 when Arsenal and Chelsea offered him lucrative contracts to make the journey to England.

The midfielder, who scored nine goals for Roma in 106 appearances, decided to remain in Serie A, wanting to fulfill his childhood dream of playing for Roma. However the ailing financial fortunes of I Giallorossi meant that the Italian club had no option but to cash-in on the player.

Meanwhile Dirk Kuyt has insisted that Liverpool can ‘cope’ with the loss of Alonso as the Anfield side seek to end a 19-year drought by claiming their first Premier League title since 1990.

Blue Square betting has quoted Liverpool at 11/4 to win the league next season with Chelsea at 11/5 and Manchester United favourites at 15/8.

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