By: Peter Karl
Right. So this is awkward. Last week’s news that Alberto Aquilani has completed a permanent move away from Anfield, really shouldn’t be a surprise. But after spilling my support and drooling over the potential impact I thought he’d have on Brendan Rodger’s squad this year, embarrassingly, I’m very guilty of premature salivation.
However, we did get the chance to meet Aqua and most of the LFC squad while the club was in Boston. We got to witness his behavior amongst his teammates. And I have to say, it was pretty apparent he really didn’t fit in.
Sorry if this sounds boastful, but the night before the Roma match Sam Mathius and I, somehow, some friggin way, managed to sneak into an exclusive meet & greet with the LFC players after their training session at Fenway. There, we were provided unlimited amounts of lobster rolls, fried fish sliders, Fenway franks, and, beautifully, draught beer. They even had these adorable little servings of bangers & mash on tiny spoons, of which I put away about a dozen. It was a glorious thing to stumble upon. We mingled with some FSG brass, Brendan Rodgers gave a cute little speech, and LFC Communications Director Jen Chang introduced us to God himself, Robbie Fowler. Drunk and jubilant, Sam and I might’ve man hugged four times. But then, as if this alone wasn’t a sufficiently amazing experience, an LFC employee approaches us and says, ‘Hey guys, the players are downstairs ready for pictures and autographs.’ Wut?
And there they were. The entire first team sat behind several tables, Sharpies at the ready. The Spaniards (Suso, Pacheco, and Jose Enrique) at one table, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing at another, Gerrard and Carragher surrounded by a mob at theirs, Andy Carroll was sweating on Jordan Henderson, Jay Spearing looked to be battling severe constipation while he and Peter Gulasci begged for someone, anyone to approach them for an autograph. Jonjo Shelvey would elbow Martin Skrtel at the site of anything in high heels. Meanwhile, Joe Cole, Daniel Agger, Brad Jones and Brad Jones’ combover posed for photos. Then, there was the star-studded table of Fabio Borini, Lucas Leiva, Glen Johnson, and Alberto Aquilani. Fabio was all smiles and comfortable around a swarm of fans. Glen Johnson was a charmer, engaging with almost everyone. Lucas was chilling.
And then there was Aqua. Puppy eyed, he constantly looked around, nervously and hardly spoke to anyone. He’d hastily autograph any article passed to him and sometimes just hand things down the line without signing them at all. When it was his time for pictures, he stood, hands in pockets, shy and disinterested. Clearly, his English is awful, which is understandable for a shy Italian guy. But he looked like a dog up for adoption, waiting for someone to pick him up and bring him home. I almost felt bad for him.
I noticed a team assistant occasionally guiding him around and acting as his translator when he needed it. So I asked him, ‘Alberto doesn’t say much does he?’
‘He’s very quiet,’ he laughed, ‘Let’s say he lets his football do the talking.’
Maybe he does. I thought he played well in his preseason appearances, especially against Roma. But then again, he impressed every preseason he was at LFC. But for Roy, Kenny, and now Rodgahs to offload Aquilani, it’s not unreasonable to assume his unimpressive attitude was a big concern. As talented a player as he is, new managers want eager, understanding players who are comfortable in a new system. At Liverpool, Aquilani looked about as comfortable as a chick in wool bikini.
There’s a well-documented trend in Italy about men who are attached to their mothers. Reports say one in three Italian men see their mother everyday. In the end, their was always one place Aquilani was headed. The motherland. And as a result, Alberto will always be remembered as one of Liverpool’s most costly misfits.