Only 3 weeks ago, Liverpool FC were facing the prospect of starting pre-season with a crisis at left back. Dependable-when-fit Fabio Aurelio had been released by outgoing manager Rafael Benitez, having refused a new pay-as-you-play contract, and Emiliano Insua, who found himself playing an unexpected 44 games last season, was hawked out to Fiorentina; and for a while, it looked like Liverpool would start their Europa Cup qualifying campaign with only the untried Chris Mavinga as the only natural left back on the books.
But as Greavsie would say “football is a funny old game” – and fast forward to the start of the campaign, and Liverpool find themselves not only with Insua failing to agree personal terms with Fiorentina, but even more surprisingly, Aurelio offered and accepting a contract by new manager Roy Hodgson.
Originally signed in the summer of 2006, Fabio Aurelio was the quintessential Benitez purchase; a player familiar to him, versatile, and accustomed to variety of positions, whether it be left back, left midfield, or even in the centre of midfield, where he lined out for Valencia (and Liverpool) on occasion.
With a sweet left foot and the ability to make even the most experienced goalkeepers look silly from set pieces (just ask Edwin Van der Sar or Petr Cech), Aurelio when fit was a solid and dependable left back, who offered composure when John Arne Riise looked increasingly error-prone, and would offer more in attack and set-pieces than the raw but ever-improving Insua.
Roy Hogdson upon re-signing Aurelio spoke:
I was quite surprised when I found out he was fully fit and hadn’t been offered a new contract, so I think it was a bit of an obvious thing to do. I said, ‘rather than move to another Barclays Premier League club why don’t you stay with us?
Aurelio has since been handed the number 6 jersey, and would be expected to be ahead of Insua in the pecking order for the left back berth; if Aurelio can put the injury problems that plagued his first Anfield stint behind him, could this be a master stroke by Hodgson in resigning one of Rafa’s former footmen?
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