Aquilani could be Liverpool's joker in pack
Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani has plans to become a Premier League ace after easing himself into English football by playing cards with his new team-mates.
After recovering from his long-term knee injury, Italy international Aquilani made his Liverpool debut this week in the Carling Cup defeat at Arsenal following a trip south that included his introduction to the tradition of the card school.
“He's tried to be involved, not only in the training sessions but off the pitch too,” said forward Dirk Kuyt.
“He played cards with us before the Arsenal match and tried to pick up the language. He's learning very quickly for an Italian!”
Aquilani, the 25-year-old Italy international, showed glimpses of his potential during a 14-minute cameo and had a shout for a penalty turned down when his scissor-kick was blocked by Philippe Senderos' arm.
Kuyt, who was stand-in skipper for the evening, believes Aquilani will establish his own style at Anfield, rather than attempt to follow in the footsteps of Xabi Alonso following the Spain midfielder's departure in the summer to Real Madrid.
“Every player who comes to Liverpool is his own personality,” Kuyt added.
“He has to do it by himself with the rest of us giving him all the support. We will help him on his way.
“We've known Alberto already for a while. This was his first game and I'm very happy for him that he made his debut for Liverpool and hopefully there is a lot more to see from him.
“He is a nice lad, on and off the pitch, and told us he couldn't wait to start. I'm glad for him and us that he can finally play.
“He's desperate to play and wants to show England how good he is.”
Aquilani could make another appearance in the trip to Fulham tomorrow when Rafael Benitez's men look to build on last weekend's superb win over Manchester United.
“We still go with a lot of confidence to Fulham because everyone knows this is a big week for the club and a few big games are coming up,” Kuyt said.
“If we can win this game hopefully we will be back in it.
“We didn't win against Arsenal but that won't stop us being ready for the weekend and the games coming up. We believe if we win the next couple of games and go on a good run, you never know what will happen.”
Liverpool's goalscorer at the Emirates Stadium, Emiliano Insua, echoed Kuyt's sentiments.
“Now we have to try and win at Fulham and then in the Champions League,” he said.
“We had a big win against Manchester United and we have always had belief in ourselves. We have a very good team and we need to keep going.”
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, revealed in his programme notes he had dropped his own interest in Aquilani during the midfielder's injury problem.
Wenger wrote: “We followed him a year or two ago but he didn't play much last year and we lost a little bit of interest in him.”