There has been plenty of talk, a seemingly endless series of cyclical rumours, about Alberto Aquilni's future in Italy and with Liverpool. Now, finally, there are actual quotes from Juventus' general manager to suggest that rather than being a case of the Daily Mail simply regurgitating their own bullshit, there may have been some substance to the constantly resurfacing Aquilani talk coming from the general direction of Turin.
After months of idle speculation, there are finally a handful of words to pick apart from Giuseppe Marotta, the man in charge of the deal on their end:
"There is a buy-out clause that has to be activated by May 15," he starts off in his best tabloid-friendly, single declarative sentences as full paragraphs, style.
"We’ll try to reach an agreement before the deadline.
"I can certainly say we will not sign Aquilani for the sum set by Liverpool."
Well then. Though they would be willing to negotiate a "more realistic" value.
To which, at the risk of annoying any Liverpool Offside readers who may be fond of the club dubbed Italy's girlfriend, the only realistic response would have to be "screw" and "off." And probably in that order, too. Still, amongst words bound to raise the ire of anyone partial to Liverpool there are some interesting, meaningful bits of information that can be sifted out of this new bit of transfer negotiation via the press that Juventus have lowered themselves to, as they join the likes of Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona as storied clubs seemingly more interested in behaving like gossiping schoolchildren than respected football institutions.
Disdain aside, though, this latest round of dithering would seem to settle what the actual cost is, once again pegging the number at around €16 million (£14M) after each previous round of rumours only seemed to devalue it, each paper or website down the great chain of rumour-mongers playing their role in further distorting the issue, as first one outlet would say £15M (€13M) and then the next would list it as £13M (€10.5M) and so on and so forth until Liverpool was set to get less from Juventus for Aquilani than the Italian club got from Liverpool for Christian Poulsen.
It also, perhaps surprisingly, sets the final date for Juventus to jump on the cut rate price foolishly handed to them by Chrisitian Purslow back before they decided they'd try to take Liverpool for a few million more pounds. With that looming May 15th the deadline, if Juventus doesn't step up then Aquilani will actually return to Liverpool's books before the season has ended. Theoretically, one supposes, he would even be free to play in Liverpool's final match of the season against Aston Villa the following week, though that of course seems unlikely. What is clear, though, is that the deadline is closer at hand than many had previously assumed, and that whatever happens with Juventus, Liverpool's ownership of Alberto Aquilani should soon become a whole lot clearer.
Of course, along with the unending stream of refuse leaking from the bowels of the Stadio Olimpico over the past many months, there has also been talk of Aquilani himself wanting to stay with Juventus. That has appeared to cause no shortage of distress amongst Liverpool fans, though once you move past the partisan teeth-gnashing that goes along with any player anywhere saying anything other than that he wants to retire in one's club's colours, it really is the only thing one could expect him to say. And it's not as though he's even been pledging his future loyalty to Juventus in the way that Fernando Torres did with Liverpool two weeks before handing in a transfer request.
All Aquilani has actually said is that he likes Turin, the season has gone well, and that he'd like to be there next year to compete for trophies and etcetera and so forth. He might well mean it more than anything, deep down in his heart, but going from what is standard athlete boilerplate to assuming he'll chain himself to the stadium gates if he's forced to return to drab and dreary England, and then looking to symbolically string him up for it, seems a touch silly.
He may of course, when he says he'd like to be back in Turin next season and as some have inferred, actually mean that he would sooner gnaw off his own right foot than return to England to play football on account of how much he loathes damp weather and tea. Or he might just be saying what every athlete says about every club he plays for. The secret, as always, is in sorting out just how much genuine feeling is behind it when any athlete says what every athlete says, and though in Aquilani's case the resurgence of his career with Juventus would make it natural to assume he has some fondness for what has been his home this term, to turn that into an assumption he'd behave the complete spoiled brat if he had to return to Liverpool seems presumptuous. Especially since his time at Liverpool saw him behave the model professional throughout a difficult 2009-10 season for both the player personally as well as the club as a whole before then having to deal with an even more difficult summer transition to the management of Christian Purslow and Roy Hodgson, a time when Aquilani said and did all the right things only to be tossed unceremoniously to the curb.
After all that, the occasional attempt to take grave offense when he talks about enjoying his time back in Italy just makes the person doing so seem petty, blinkered, and perhaps even a touch xenophobic. The current situation was one forced on him by the club's worst managing duo in modern history last season, while Juventus' leaders have been doing their best of late to join them in the pantheon of pantomime villains. For Aquilani, from the first day he signed for Liverpool to the present, nothing coming from his side has seemed anything but trying to make the best of whatever situation he's found himself in. That he's looking ever more likely to return, potentially strengthening Liverpool's midfield without the need to spend big in the transfer market, should be unquestionably good news. It is unquestionably good news.