Rumors have abounded of late that Glen Johnson is on his way out of Anfield, either in a cut-price move in January or when his contract expires at the end of the season.That means Liverpool will most likely need to replace him in some form, and according to new reports, Liverpool might be looking to Italy for that replacement.
AC Milan also have an international right back with an expiring contract in Ignazaio Abate, and reports today have Liverpool linked to him. The plan would seem to be to sign him to a pre-contract deal in January and hope to use that leverage to get Milan to let him go early for a low fee. At first blush, that all sounds well and good.
Of course, there's a problem with that plan: Abate really isn't very good.
Abate isn't bad per se, but he's also not much of an improvement on Glen Johnson either. He's very, very average: not very fast, but not slow either. Not terribly strong. OK going forward, but rarely going to wow you in attack. Decent in defense, but you can do a lot better.
This is also a player with a bit of an inconsistency reputation in Italy, but the opposite is actually true... just not in a way that you'd hope. Abate is a player who's good for about three or four awesome matches in a season, with the rest consistently falling more in the range of mediocre to poor. If you're willing to pull your hair out for ten-or-more match stretches to wait for him to do something cool, then Abate is your man.
Considering his age (Abate turns 28 next month), relatively high wages for the production you can reasonably expect from him, and the pre-existing presence of Javier Manquillo and Jon Flanagan, Liverpool would likely find their resources best used elsewhere. He's not a long-term starting option, more like a rotational option to keep others fresh. Given that, Abate would cost more just in wages than he's probably worth, and for the sake of success in his career and more frequent playing time, Abate would be better off with another club that he fits with better.