Tuesday May 6 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: Aquilani

Credit belongs to Alberto Aquilani for getting his form back with Fiorentina, but Jeremy Lim is still not sure whether he is ready to go to Brazil.

The forgotten man of Italian football, Alberto Aquilani is not a name fans would immediately pin the country’s World Cup hopes on. A nomadic career has prevented the midfielder from leaving a lasting imprint in recent memory, sliding off the title track amidst failure to convince for clubs such as Liverpool, Juventus and Milan.

Likewise falling short of the heights he was tipped for donning the Azzurri strip, the upcoming tournament in Brazil may be Aquilani’s final chance to salvage an international future. His outlook has improved of late. A move to Fiorentina has given the former hot prospect a vital sense of permanence, prompting Cesare Prandelli to call him up to the Confederations Cup last summer.

The role Aquilani plays has been an important element in the resurgence of Vincenzo Montella’s men, who have now qualified to the Europa League in consecutive seasons. Slotting in beside David Pizarro and Borja Valero in the engine room, the 29-year-old’s forays and box-to-box style creates space for his counterparts to weave play. As his time in Florence confirms, Aquilani can also be pretty handy with the goals too.

Netting a first ever hat-trick, against Genoa remains the highlight of his season. Indeed, the Artemio Franchi has seen a biggest return of goals to date, ensuring he has bagged a larger haul than each of fellow candidates Claudio Marchisio and Riccardo Montolivo over the last pair of campaigns.

But despite looking comfortable against the likes of Verona and Bologna in Serie A, plus Pacos Ferreira and Esbjerg in Europe, doubts still exist whether Aquilani has enough international credentials to stand up to opponents of Spain’s and Brazil’s calibre when representing Italy.

His record for Fiorentina stepping up versus top sides is unconvincing. There was his negative tendency to disappear in the home League defeats to Roma, Inter and Napoli. And on Saturday, the player’s inability to effect the result in the Coppa Italia final contributed to the Tuscan outfit finishing second best.

The World Cup dress rehearsal in 2013 had been only Aquilani’s second tournament for Italy since Euro 2008, and it showed. He endured a shocker against Japan and was hauled off by Prandelli after only half an hour. An anonymous performance in the defeat to hosts Brazil followed. Overall, the Roman appeared lightweight and lacking in quality while constantly being bypassed with ease.

Perhaps recognising the limited future his continued selection would present the Nazionale, Prandelli refrained from calling Aquilani post-October’s friendly tie with Armenia. Italy’s depth in the middle of the park, where they can pick Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and still turn to Thiago Motta and Marchisio on the bench, has spaced him out.

An emergence of talented youngsters only compounds matters further - Aquilani can neither count on the prodigious potential of Marco Verratti, nor the ‘super sub’ capabilities of Alessandro Florenzi. Despite enjoying an admirable revival with Fiorentina, progress in the national set-up mean the days left for the ex-Roma man to make an impact for his country are depleted.

Have your say...
I am on planet earth, friend. Aquilani is a naturally gifted trequartista, while Pirlo is a regista. Again, he is the most stylish (elegant) playmaker in Italy, not necessary the greatest one. Pirlo and De Rossi are the top two midfielders in Italy, but not the most elegant ones. My point has to do with style and elegance.
on the 12th May, 2014 at 3:00pm
Except from Pirlo and De Rossi , who btw could easily get red card anytime, i believe Aquilani is better than any other midfielder in Italy. Definitely better than Marchisio and Montolivo.
on the 11th May, 2014 at 12:01pm
Rigaud, what planet are you on? Without a doubt the most talented midfielder in Italy?
on the 11th May, 2014 at 4:09am
leave him and Monti at home.
on the 10th May, 2014 at 11:25am
Yes, he is more elegant with the ball than any other Italian midfielder, including Pirlo. That doesn't mean that he is greater player than Pirlo, De Rossi, or even Montolivo. But he is quite a stylish midfielder.
on the 9th May, 2014 at 2:57am
Aquilani more elegant than pirlo??? Who let the mental patient escape???
on the 8th May, 2014 at 7:25am
Aquilani is without doubt the most elegant and talented midfielder in Italy. No one, even Pirlo, can be compared to him when it comes to style. Should be ahead of Marchisio who never plays well for Italy.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 5:19pm
Do not see him even making the 30 man provisional team
on the 6th May, 2014 at 11:24pm
Not enough talent or heart to make this team.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 9:47pm
For some reason plays better for national team than club, probably because of his infinite injuries. I remember his goal versus Spain in a friendly. However, if we play the numbers game don't think there is any room.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 7:51pm
God I hope he doesn't go, had loads of chances and done nothing we have much better options in midfield.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 5:05pm
I like him good player but I don't think there is room for him at the moment. Too similar to Montolivo.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 3:20pm
Absolutely no chance of getting into squad. Simply does not have the right temperament at the highest level - too many better and reliable players than him.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 11:29am
Please God no. Had more chances than others in an Italian shirt and he blew it every time. No, no, no. While I'm at it, No Osvaldo either.
on the 6th May, 2014 at 11:15am
Awful player, slow and lethargic - a poor man's Pirlo! Prandelli seems to like him though!
on the 6th May, 2014 at 11:06am

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