Back pain is a peculiar thing. Within a moment, one sixty second span, the level of agony can oscillate between grudgingly tolerable and somebody shoot me for the love of Fowler. This, dear reader, is my current reality -- stand-typing, floor-typing, deity-cursing and profusely weeping. Suffice it to say that such a condition can place a very drab and somewhat jaundiced filter across the lens through which one views the world. It was with such a dismal perspective on humanity that I began searching for something to present to you today for your amusement and, unsurprisingly, the resultant tale is a dark one.
Luis Suarez will leave Liverpool. We know this. Some, eminently sensible friends of mine insist that LFC call the shots, that he has a contract and that the club can force him to play. Yes. Alas, that scenario is spectacularly unpalatable and likely unproductive. If the Uruguayan were to stay now, his footballing brilliance would not be enough to redeem him in the eyes of many. Suarez, through his open flirtation with Real Madrid, and more-understandable moaning about press-intrusiveness, has begun to hack mercilessly at the bond between himself and the fans of Liverpool Football Club. He has mentally moved on.
Fans, like myself, who stood four-square behind the striker during his all-too-numerous travails, can justifiably feel aggrieved at his desire for defection. "But it's Champions League," some will say. "You can't blame the chap for wanting a chance to win things, play at the top level...you only get one career, y'know." Yes, yes I can blame him. And I do.
I'm sorry; I admire the serene pragmatism of such a philosophical outlook but this is where I play my Being A Supporter Is Inherently Irrational card. When I wade uneasily through some morally murky waters with a man, never condemning him utterly, despite all evidence that I should, I feel that earns me a little loyalty. If that's hopelessly one-eyed and irrational, then I'm pleased to meet you. Trevor the Unreasonable Cyclops, at your service.
Having therefore convinced myself of the sagacity of selling Suarez for as much money as the club can squeeze out of Los Blancos, I turned my attention to the future as embodied by one Iago Aspas. As chronicled here by Ed yesterday, the completion of the Spaniard's seemingly inevitable move to Liverpool has been hampered by mistaken identity and now "bureaucratic issues." A superstitious man would see this an inauspicious start and when one is hagridden by pernicious pain in one's lower vertebrae, the Spidey-sense begins to tingle wildly. I began to read about Aspas and it was a worry.
Iago Aspas Juncal was a name that delighted me on first hearing it. As an incorrigible bore who enjoys a spot of word-play, the options afforded by his moniker alone were tantalising. The feelings of positivity were only exacerbated when YouTube clips were viewed and various reviews read. He was, admittedly, not a player I'd seen more than a handful of times on Revista de La Liga, but what stood out was his ability to carry the ball, commit a defender, provide a chance and take a goal. It's a heady cocktail of attributes that might remind you of a certain Uruguayan. Suarez is clearly in a different class, but there are undeniable comparisons.
A capacity to play anywhere across a front-three is a pre-requisite we, perhaps erroneously, attribute to Brendan Rodgers when he is choosing forwards, but Iago Aspas has this ability. He is mobile and tenacious and will buy into any tracking-back or closing-down necessary in the system of play. At twenty five, he is a comparatively young player who could make a considerable impact at LFC over a few years.
His passion for the game is clear upon watching him perform and indeed, as a Celtista all his life, Aspas is quite the local hero. Even with a move looking likely and relegation in the balance, the forward emerged as a hero on the last day of the season with an assist for the goal that kept his boyhood heroes in the top flight of Spanish football.
It is this passionate attitude to life that may provide something of an unwanted comparison with everyone's favourite forearm epicure. In a huge encounter during March of last seson, Celta Vigo went to detested local rivals Deportivo La Coruna, with both clubs mired in the relegation zone. Aspas was going to be vital were his team to have a chance of victory but he lost his head spectacularly, headbutting Carlos Marchena and getting sent off. His team lost and Aspas was banned for four of the team's last nine games.
Immediately upon his return after the four-game ban, Aspas was booked for diving, which sounds uncomfortably familiar, and ruled out of the following game, which also does. This brings us to the most notable comparison between Suarez and his potential replacement. Both men are sufficiently brilliant on the field of play to cause fans to turn a blind-eye to their indiscretions.
In the final two matches of the season, Celta needed six points. During the penultimate game, Aspas stepped forward to take a crucial penalty in a two-nil win and, as already noted, it was he who provided the assist for the goal which allowed a dramatic last-minute reprieve from relegation. Heroic stuff.
Now it would be grossly unfair to compare on-pitch hot-headedness to the kind of frankly mentalist behaviour that causes one to gnaw a nearby Serbian, but you can see why some alarm bells might be gently ringing for a fellow in a pessimistic and world-weary mood. If we are to lose one man prone to unfettered lunacy, let us hope that the bloke passing him on the way in has the good grace to keep his particular brand of madness in check.