Of all the new summer signings of Liverpool, Iago Aspas is probably the only one who has failed to mark any sort of positive impression in the team. While he struggled to adjust to the pace of the league and Liverpool’s system in the opening few matches, his situation has been worsened by a thigh injury, sustained in training at Melwood in mid-October.
According to the club’s official website, the Spaniard is due to join the squad within next 10 days or so. The 26-year-old is happy with how the team has performed but largely disappointed with his individual effort thus far.
“Not playing is frustrating, but I can take advantage of this stoppage, and try to get back to playing as soon as possible,” he said.
“I think I can improve; I am happy with the team’s level but not so much individually because I think I can do a lot better.
“First I want to recover from my injury and afterwards I can use my qualities better and exploit them better as a centre-forward.”
I do not discourage his willingness to improve himself and do better for the team but personally I can’t see him doing enough for Liverpool this season. Aspas is a good player and capable of producing moments of brilliance as well, but at Liverpool, and especially this season, things are bit tough for him, especially for these three reasons.
First, he won’t be able to start regularly. The central reason is Liverpool’s absence from other competitions, which in a way is an advantage for the Reds. Since, the Reds do not have any side distractions; Brendan Rodgers can give full rest to his players week in week out and pick up the best first eleven on a regular basis. And Aspas is not yet ready to cement his place for the starting eleven. That’s why with only Premier League to play (read as limited games), Rodgers doesn’t have the luxury to rotate his squad and keep everyone happy.
Secondly, even if he is ready, he still cannot be drafted into the first eleven. The 3-5-2 formation that Rodgers implements is designed solely to accommodate Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. They are Liverpool’s first choice strikers and Aspas at best can play as sub or can wait for either of them to get injured or suspended. Therefore, his wishes of playing as a centre forward is all but a day dream.
Thirdly, this change of formation doesn’t allow him to exploit his other qualities as well. In the 4-2-3-1 formation, Rodgers could have tried him on the flanks, where he played before during his time with Celta Vigo. But, this formation shuns down the role of wing play. With Coutinho returned to full fitness, it is hard for other players to get a game now, simply because of the positional restriction in the new formation. Even, Rodgers is thinking of sending some of his players like Raheem Stering on loan.
In such a situation, I can’t see how Aspas can play in the no 10 role behind the two strikers and improve from here on. In any case, there is no harm in having a fully fit squad, isn’t it?