Of the players that are expected to leave this summer, there was only certainty around the departure of Fabio Aurelio. Today it's been widely reported that he'll head back to Brazil on a free transfer to join Gremio, where he'll surely see out the final days of his playing career. We've said goodbye to the player once before, which makes this a less traditional farewell post, but he's still deserving of a mention for the impact that he made during his time with Liverpool.
The most frustrating bit with Fabio Aurelio has, at face value, always been the injuries. Rarely able to work an extended run in the side without suffering some sort of knock of niggle, he featured sparingly after the club re-signed him a few months after Rafa Benitez had confirmed that his contract wouldn't be renewed. This season he's been nearly invisible, making only two starts and one substitute appearance as he yet again found himself unable to stay healthy.
That's bad enough, but it was made worse by the fact that, when he was healthy, he was peerless in terms of composure, quality, and technical skill. If he'd been shit and constantly injured, he'd have been Phillipp Degen, just as if he'd been shit and never injured he'd have been Paul Konchesky. But he was the eminently frustrating combination of being quite gifted and never fit, and while we were eventually able to make light of the situation, it was always disappointing to think about what might have been.
What might have been this season was cover for Jose Enrique as he went from one of the squad's best players in the first half to one of the most inconsistent and ineffective in the second, and an increased number of matches as the club made runs to the finals in both domestic cup competition. What might have been this season was better service for Andy Carroll, which we caught glimpses of in the lone league match that the two started together against Fulham at Anfield. And what might have been was more danger for Liverpool from set pieces, as their delivery from free kicks and corners was, at least a majority of the time, severely lacking.
It's sad to spend much of the time saying goodbye wondering "what if", but Fabio Aurelio is the quintessential "what if" player. We won't only remember what he couldn't provide, however, especially as it relates to the season prior to the release/re-signing in the summer of 2010. During the 2008-2009 campaign he was part of a number of the club's great memories---scoring an impossible free kick through a crowd inside the Portsmouth penalty area for Liverpool's first equalizer in a 3-2 win, delivering the free kick to Yossi Benayoun against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, cementing the 4-1 win at Old Trafford with another free kick that left Edwin van der Sar rooted, and the opener against Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinal second leg that very nearly saw Liverpool overturn a 1-3 first leg deficit.
There's not much to speak of since that time, unfortunately, with the aforementioned display against Fulham this season and the performance against Manchester City from last season part of the few standout appearances he managed in the past two seasons. We'd have loved to see more, and given his character, he's certainly a man who deserves better. The class never disappeared, even as we saw less and less of him, but it just wasn't to be.
So as we did when we said goodbye two years ago, we thank him for what was able to give Liverpool during his time there, wish him the best of luck, and hopefully a chance to see out his career fully fit and on form. Then again, form's never really been the problem.
Video by EOTKTV.