Of the four signings to arrive at Liverpool this summer, it's fair to say that the largest amount of uncertainty rests with Iago Aspas. Simon Mignolet has Premier League experience and will at worst be competition, Kolo Toure is a time-limited purchase brought in to do a very specific job, and Luis Alberto is the promising Spanish starlet who's all potential and will be granted plenty of patience. Aspas is none of those things--very little fanfare, lacking in Premier League experience, and, unfortunately for him, a small amount of the patience that will be afforded to his younger compatriot.
And yet there's still something quite exciting about him, and it's not just the rush to categorize him as Liverpool's Michu. For me it's the combination of quality with the manner in which he goes about his business; Saturday's second-half display against Preston was as good an indication as any, though the subdued nature of the tie combined with Liverpool's overall dominance neutered a bit of the cutting edge of a player who's clearly going to be afforded the opportunities to make himself a valuable part of Brendan Rodgers' squad.
Aspas was cool without appearing disinterested, comfortable both as provider and finisher, and proved a tireless worker with and without the ball for his 45-minute shift. On two occasions he played excellent through balls against his body from a deeper-lying position for the streaking Raheem Sterling, and while the first was whistled offside by a narrow margin, the second played the young winger into space past a hapless Preston backline and ultimately gave Liverpool their third goal of the match.
The goal Aspas got for himself was again as much a product of poor Preston defending as it was his own skill, but his confidence to take the shot and ability to put it on goal were plenty impressive, and it was a deserved reward for his efforts on the day. Rodgers was effusive (surprise, surprise, etc.) in his praise of Aspas' shift, making a point to pick out his movement and single-mindedness in the final third.
It remains to be seen where Aspas will be used when the season gets going for real, or how effective he--along with the rest of today's debutants--will eventually be for Liverpool. Today was a step in the right direction, though, and if he manages to continue to produce in this manner throughout the preseason, he'll have set himself up nicely for when it actually matters.
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