So What’s the real problem with Iago Aspas?
Iago Aspas, not the most familiar of names to Liverpool fans prior to the summer transfer window and his move to Anfield from Spanish team Celta Vigo. The first time I heard his name was when my local paper had him linked with Swansea City, another Michu was the cry, an unknown Spanish forward player was going to come across to South Wales and take the Premier League by surprise and by storm, or so the story went.
Of course, that move didn’t happen and when he arrived at Anfield on the back of some very good reviews from manager Brendan Rodgers and Spanish football expert Guillem Balague us fans would have been forgiven for thinking that we had stolen a march on Swansea and the rest of our rivals, we had brought in a Spanish gem, a player who could step into the team and help us all forget what was going on at the time with Luis Suarez.
Aspas performed well in pre-season, was handed the famous No 9 jersey and things seemed set for him to hit the ground running and in a similar vain to Daniel Sturridge. Unfortunately for Aspas his Liverpool career so far has been more Fabio Borini than Daniel Sturridge. He has struggled to make a positive impact. Nobody can argue with that.
It doesn’t help him that most of Liverpool’s other summer signings have so far excelled, Mignolet, Moses, Toure have all hit the ground running and have won rave reviews from fans and pundits alike. One key difference is that they have all moved from Premier League clubs, they have all played the majority of their careers in the Premier League, it holds no mysteries to them, there is no language or cultural differences. It takes some players time to adjust, time to adapt to a new way of living, training and playing. It takes some a lot longer than the six games Aspas has had in a red shirt.
That being said, I do have my concerns over Aspas. The first thing is his physique. If he isn’t living in the gym and eating all his meals at Nando’s then the fitness team need to get him there now! He is far too slight. He looks as though he has a childs body compared to the other players in his position at Anfield. He will need to improve his upper body strength if he is going to succeed in the Premier League and he will need to adapt to the pace of the game very quickly.
Also, i’m not sure what position will suit him best at Liverpool. He isn’t going to displace Daniel Sturridge or Luis Suarez as the first choice striking partnership in the current 3-4-1-2 set up and he isn’t going to get in ahead of Phillipe Coutinho in the no 10 role. Perhaps he can play from the right in a 4-3-3 set up, with Suarez from the left and Sturridge down the middle, only time will tell on that front as the current set up, in my opinion at least, is the best use of all our players and our strengths as a team.
Although he isn’t a prolific goal scorer, a return of 12 goals in 36 appearances in his final season at Celta Vigo in a team that were fighting relegation was more than adequate and obviously the hope was that in a better team then he would have more opportunities and he would be able comfortably beat that total. However, you would expect him to hit the ground running. He hasn’t been brought in with one eye on the future like Luis Alberto, he was brought in to start straight away, especially with Luis Suarez being suspended. He was brought in to affect the first team straight away.
After scoring in pre-season and then impressing during his Premier League debut at Anfield against Stoke, where he set up Daniel Sturridge for the match winning goal Aspas’ influence in games has slowly decreased, he was relegated to the bench by Liverpool’s fourth league game of the season, the 2-2 draw away at Swansea and when he did enter the fray after Phil Coutino’s injury he had no effect on the game. He got brushed off the ball too easily, his first touch appeared to have deserted him and he was visibly frustrated. He tried hard, tracked back and maked a nuisance of himself but Liverpool needed more than that from him that night, Liverpool were under siege and every time the ball went forward to him it ended up coming straight back.
Right now I am struggling to see the benefit of spending money on him and letting Fabio Borini go out on loan, Fabio is used to playing football in England, what Fabio needed was a run of games, injury free and in a red shirt. He could have got that at the start of this season and who knows what that would have done to his confidence levels, now he is in limbo up at Sunderland.
Personally I am not ready to write of Iago Aspas just yet, the same as I am not willing to write off Fabio Borini, they are both good players and they both need a run of games and the chance to get some confidence back in their games. Where Aspas gets his games from now though is a difficult one, Liverpool are out of the Capitol Once Cup and have no European football this year. The FA Cup does not start for the reds until January, that is a long time to just be playing U21 football and maybe some time as a substitute. At least Borini has the chance to start some games under new Sunderland boss Gus Poyet.
Will Aspas come good or will he go down as the last transfer mistake from Brendan Rodgers prior to him being taken off the transfer committee? As fans we need to support him and hope there is a resurrection of Aspas just like Henderson and Lucas Leiva before him.
Meanwhile latest reports from the club’s official website reveals that the Spaniard has suffered a torn thigh muscle in training today. It has further been revealed that he will be out of the action until the start of December.