Friday, July 24, 2009

Alberto Aquilani - the good, the bad and the ugly

With a an important season ahead of Alberto Aquliani, whether it’s in Italy or England, I offer my views on both his qualities and shortcomings.

The good

- A midfielder with built in Italian comfort on the ball, which means that his first touch is sublime and he can move the ball around on both of his feet. It allows him to take a bit more time on the ball in the centre of the pitch and this could come in handy in the 100mph Premiership.

- Playing as a very mobile central midfielder allows him to arrive late in and around the box and score goals. This is not another Xabi Alonso, a centre circle “tick-tack” metronome. This is a completely different player in a sense that he moves where the ball is regardless of his initial position on the pitch.

- Respectable shooting ability from distance which has not yielded enough goals so far in his career. A lot of his shoots seem to go on target and trouble the keeper, as well as hitting all sorts of woodwork but the important thing is that the willingness to shoot from distance is there. A little bit of tweaking and a bit more experience and he could be an accomplished goalscoring midfielder.

- His height (6ft2in) is another positive aspect of his game as it allows him to command a presence in midfield that the likes of Ballack and Vieira had due to their stature. When he’s on the pitch you know he’s there. His height does not compromise his mobility though.

- Even though he has in time established himself as a central midfielder he’s a player who is comfortable playing out wide as well as just behind the striker. In fact it is behind the striker that he enjoyed his best games for Roma before eventually settling into a central midfield role alongside De Rossi.

The bad

- He has a tendency to dwell too much on the ball at times and if he doesn’t see options in front of him he can be pushed into giving it away. Roma manager Luciano Spalletti has spoken of this problem and this is one of the reasons why a more experienced Pizarro is preferred to Aquilani alongside De Rossi at times. However the general opinion is that this is something that can be worked on and is one of the reasons why Aquilani has worked on bulking up his upper body, which is quite impressive for an originally gangly character, in the last couple of years.

- Speaking of his physical strength again, while his upper body has become much stronger his legs are still weak at times and he’s not the most comfortable player going into tackling battles. However if you have a more physical player next to him he can get away with it.

- While he definitely isn’t slow for a midfielder he does, at times, appear one paced in a sense that he lacks that bit of dynamism in his game. He’s not someone who can burst through everything and everybody in a way that Gerrard, Essien or Cambiasso can. These are the players, who when being angered can take the pace of the game to a higher level. Aquilani, so far, hasn’t showed this quality. He’s more a “let me play the game at my pace” sort of player.

- As mentioned earlier there is not enough end product in his game at the moment. However he’s also lost a good chunk of his career to injuries and hasn’t really had an opportunity to work on this part of his game extensively, especially in games. For instance he started the 08/09 season like a man possessed, scoring 3 goals in the first 5 games, before being struck down with several niggling injuries throughout 2009.

The ugly

- Injuries. Please sort it out Alberto. It’s the only thing genuinely holding you back. Get fit and ready and everything else will naturally fall into place.


  1. A fair assessment of the lad. Injuries have really shunted his progress at Roma – a couple of seasons ago he was an absolute gem and the next “star” player to come through the Italian system. He still is that, but needs to get over his injuries and start performing consistently at the level he’s capable’s as good a time as any for him to stake a claim for a permanent place in Italy’s midfield, particularly as Pirlo ages.

    He’s got bags of ability and, what I like about him most of all is that, he’s a lot more dynamic and mobile than somebody like Alonso. Agree about goals/end product, he has immaculate technique and you’d expect him to score more often...much like Xabi really.

    He’d be a cracking option next to Masch if Xabi goes, and I personally think he would offer more to our team than Xabi does currently. He’s got the potential to be a top midfielder and we’d certainly be able to get that out of him by surrounding with the likes of Stevie and Masch.