Friday, 14 August 2009

Benitez says Aquilani has the quality to win matches

Reds boss Rafa Benitez has spoken about his delight at signing Alberto Aquilani, revealing he had been following the Italian international for some time. Speaking at the press conference to reveal Aquilani to the media, Benitez said:

“Aquilani is a player we have been monitoring for a long time,” said Benitez in the Echo.

“He’s a clever player, he can pass the ball quickly and can play one touch with good vision.

“Alonso would drop off to receive the ball but Aquilani is more offensive and is a player with more mobility. He is very good at getting into the box and scoring goals.

“He can play as a second striker if necessary, but his best position will be between Gerrard and Mascherano – or between Lucas and Gerrard.

“The difference between draws and victories is a little bit of quality and we believe Aquilani is this type of player.”

Speaking about Xabi Alonso's move to Real Madrid, the Reds boss said:

“We heard some rumours about contact between his agent and Real Madrid on April 30,” he said.

“Then on May 15 the agent said he was coming to see us to talk about Xabi’s future. He had three years left on his contract so it was clear Xabi was leaving.

“Since that day we worked hard to keep the player but it was impossible so we were trying to get the best price for the club.

“When we knew Xabi was leaving we started looking to find a replacement with quality and we believe Aquilani is what we are looking for.”

Centre-backs Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel are expected to be fit for Sunday’s Premier League opener but it is still unclear if captain Steven Gerrard will recover from the tight groin that forced him to withdraw from the friendly against Holland.

Benitez added: “Carra has been working with the physios and we think he’ll be available
“It’s more difficult for Agger but Skrtel has trained and hopefully he will be fit.

“I’m not sure about Gerrard – it depends how he progresses over the next few days.

“If the game had been on Saturday it would be difficult but because it’s on Sunday he could have a chance.

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