Welcome Aquaman

Alberto Aquilani joined Milan last week on loan from Liverpool. His nickname, given to him by Roma fans, is actually “il Principino,” or the Little Prince. But English speaking fans have a much better nickname for him: Aquaman. Why is it better? Picture him in a crown and silly tights, then picture him as the famed superhero of the seas, then you decide. (Superheroes always trump stuffy royalty.)

Born in Rome on July 7, 1984, Aquilani’s last name is actually derived from the word for eagle in Italian, aquila. One would think with a name like that, he would choose the light blue side of Rome, but he grew up a devout fan of the Giallorossi. He was a product of the Roma youth system. At the tender age of 16, both Chelsea and Arsenal came calling for him, offering him contracts. But his heart was with Roma, and so he stayed.

He made his first team debut in May of 2002 under Fabio Capello vs. Torino. In the ‘03-‘04 season, he was loaned to Triestina to get more playing time, where he scored 4 goals in 41 appearances. Back at Roma, he had broken into the first team in the ’05-’06 season. Probably his most famous Roma appearance was the Rome derby, where he scored the winning goal and Roma also broke the Serie A record for most consecutive wins at that time.

The following season, however, he suffered his first of a number of major injuries and was out for much of the season. The next 2 consecutive seasons, he suffered an injury in October and returned in January, giving him his injury-prone reputation. Still, he helped Roma win 2 back to back Coppa Italias in ’06-’07 and ’07-’08, as well as a Supercoppa trophy in 2007, even if he was injured for months out of the season.

Despite the injuries, at the end of the ’08-’09 season, he was offered a 3 year contract extension that would see him at Roma through 2013. Despite this contract extension, he was sold to Liverpool to play under Rafa Benitez for the ’09-’10 season. Although he rarely played 90 minutes, he had 26 appearances for the club, with 2 goals in only 18 starts. Liverpool fans gave him the Man of the Match title a few times, even when he only came on as a sub. But he was still considered too inconsistent.

Last season, he was loaned to Juventus with an option to buy. During this time, he scored 2 goals in 33 appearances. Be sure to note that he made 33 appearances. Let’s hope that injury prone thing is a thing of the past. During the ’10-’11 season, he is touted as having 80% passing accuracy, which is a very nice stat, even better when you actually see it in practice.

Aquaman’s preferred position is in the hole behind the strikers, he works best as an attacking midfielder. He has played further back in the role of the holding midfielder, but has more success on attack. He doesn’t score a lot of goals, but when he does, they are often YouTube-worthy. My favorites are the ones he scores from deep, the kid has a decent leg on him. He is known for having excellent vision, sometimes seeing things peripherally that seem almost impossible. He plays with a bit of finesse, although his passing is clinical and accurate. In short, a quality player.

For the Italian National Team, he has played for every age group from U15-U21 and now with the senior team. Most notably, he scored a goal in ’03 when Italy won the UEFA U19 Championship. He also scored 2 goals playing for the U21 Championship in ’07 and was named to UEFA’s Team of the Tournament.

His first cap for the senior team was vs. Turkey in 2006. Since then, he has made 17 appearances for Italy, including playing in Euro 2008. His first goal for the senior side came in 2010 World Cup Qualifying in October of 2008, where he actually scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Montenegro. HE was unfortunately cut from Lippi’s roster for South Africa. Imagine if he’d been able to step up when Pirlo was injured…. but I digress. Prandelli has shown great faith in him, and his 3rd international goal came most recently, when he scored vs. Spain in a friendly just a couple of weeks ago.

It is weird to think that Juventus and Milan basically swapped Aquilani for Pirlo. even if Liverpool was mixed up in all of it. But there are two potential reasons for this. One, it gave Galliani to show off his mad mercato skills, getting a younger player on a better deal. The other, and it pains me to say this, but I think Aquilani will fit in better with Allegri’s formation and prove to be very valuable, should he stay healthy.

He has shown great class while being shoved around from Juve to Liverpool to Milan, and has been commended for it by fellow players and his managers alike. Plus, he should get along quite nicely with former Roma teammate Philippe Mexes when he gets back onto the pitch.

Personally, who wouldn’t want a player who can breathe underwater, use his superhuman strength to swim at high speeds, speak to sea creatures telepathically, and who lives in the lost city of Atlantis? Plus, he should come in handy when we play Cesena, as he really knows how to ride those seahorses. Welcome, Aquaman.

This post was inspired by the music of Interpol.

Welcome Aquaman Welcome Aquaman Reviewed by Elaine on 3:47 AM Rating: 5
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