Thursday, August 6, 2009

Alonso leaves Aquilani arrives

Aquilani set for Anfield as Liverpool move quickly to replace Alonso

Liverpool may have finally lost Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid after a summer long transfer battle but manager Rafael Benitez has wasted no time in finding a replacement. The man set to fill the void is talented Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani, who is set for a medical later this week.

The two clubs agreed a fee of around £20million for Aquilani just a few hours after Alonso completed his £30million move to Madrid. A statement on the Liverpool website confirmed that Aquilani has been lined up as a replacement for some time. It said: “Liverpool completed their discussions with Roma once the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid was finally agreed.”

Manager Rafael Benitez added: “As soon as he [Alonso] told us that he wanted to leave we started working, looking for players”.

Aquilani is a creative midfielder in the Alonso mould and at just 25 years old (three years younger than the Spaniard) could prove to be an inspired signing by Benitez. The Liverpool boss said: “Alberto has a winning mentality and great experience in both Serie A and the Champions League”.

Aquilani has also become a regular in the national squad and has made 11 appearances for Italy since making his international debut in 2006.

“Aquilani has long been recognised as a top class talent in Italy, captaining his country at both Under 19 and Under 21 levels before establishing himself in the senior national side,” said Benitez.

The one concern for Liverpool will be the Italian's fitness record, with Aquilani making just 14 appearances last season due to an ankle injury. However the problem has since been operated on and though he may not be fit for the start of the season, the injury is unlikely to reoccur.

Xabi Alonso was arguably Liverpool's player of the year last season and his transfer was undoubtedly a blow to the club's Premier League title chances but with Benitez moving quickly and decisively to find a replacement of similar stature, there wont be many critics writing them off just yet.

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