Liverpool’s on-loan striker Iago Aspas has today confirmed the widely reported rumour that his Sevilla move is set to be made permanent this summer with the Spanish club obliged to pay Liverpool a £5M transfer fee. Few expected the 27-year-old to ever play for Liverpool again, but long-held assumptions about the nature of his Sevilla loan have now been confirmed.
"I came here on a loan deal with obligatory option to buy," Aspas told ESPN FC. "I am a Sevilla player for next season. I will sit down and talk to the club in the coming days, or when the season ends. But, well, it is an open secret that everyone knew. The transfer was to be paid this summer. I am very happy at Sevilla, they received me with open arms, and I hope to keep paying them back for many years.
Aspas arrived at Liverpool in 2013 for a £7.5M fee following a season where he had more goals and assists than any other player in Spain not at Barcelona or Real Madrid. Given the poor quality of players around him at the time at Celta Vigo and his reputation as a feisty, hard working forward, it seemed a solid gamble on a striker with very promising underlying numbers.
Stuck behind Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, he never got a chance at a consistent run of starts and never really found his feet at Liverpool. This year as a squad player for Sevilla, Aspas has made 24 appearances across all competitions, with 10 goals and two assists to show for it. Despite fairly limited action, he's scored a goal every 92 minutes he’s on the pitch and has a 28% strike rate.
He remains second choice behind starters Carlos Bacca and Kevin Gameiro in Sevilla's two-striker set-up, but with the players Liverpool brought in to replace him behind Daniel Sturridge struggling, it’s hard not to wonder if the Reds might not have been better off simply holding on to Aspas and spending the £20M they invested in Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli elsewhere.
It’s a question fans are again asking themselves as the club look to spend £7M on a second choice striker, with Burnley’s Danny Ings expected to become the club’s first first team signing of the summer. Is continually spending £5M or £10M on strikers nobody really expects to see start regularly and then selling them off when they don’t do much in limited minutes really a good way to operate, or is it just wasting money?
"I think that if I’d been at Liverpool this year, I would have played a lot more games," added Aspas. "With Sturridge’s injury, and Suarez not being there, I might have got the player time I did not get last year. I watch nearly all the Liverpool games here on TV. It was a pity, above all, in the Champions League when they were eliminated very quickly."
Given he’s averaged nearly a goal a game for Sevilla while the men who replaced him as Sturridge’s backups don’t even have a goal in four, perhaps the real pity is Liverpool wasted time and money sourcing replacements for Iago Aspas last summer and finding him a new home rather than putting their energy into bringing in a true top class striker to compliment a then-fit Sutrridge.
And hopefully, a year from now, fans aren’t left saying similar things about a summer that’s likely to see Danny Ings brought in and new homes found for Lambert and Balotelli.