8 Sept 2013

'It's hard' - €10m LFC star admits he's playing out of position. Destined to Fail...?

The jury is still out on Liverpool's €10m summer signing Iago Aspas, with several ex-Reds already on his back, arguing that the Spaniard is too 'lightweight' for the Premier League. The former Celta Vigo star claims he's happy with how things are going, but in a new interview, he hints that Brendan Rodgers is not utilising him in the most effective manner.

Speaking to the official Liverpool FC website this week, Aspas insisted he's 'very happy' at Liverpool, but admitted that he's playing an unfamiliar role for the club. He explained:

"It's the first time I've left home so that's been hard.

"I'm playing a bit further back than I did at Celta, but over here you need to run a bit more because it's a bit more physically. That's the biggest difference from the Spanish league, which is more based on technique"

Aspas will obviously need time to adapt to the Premier League, but so far - despite not scoring - he is doing fairly well. After all, he's part of table-topping team with a 100% record, and that is an admirable achievement.

It is slightly concerning, however, to hear that Aspas's ability to influence games is being somewhat curtailed. At Celta Vigo, he played as a striker, and like Fabio Borini, he spends a lot of time out wide, which - on current evidence - is not a position at which he excels.

Are we about to see a repeat of the Borini situation? Like the Italian, Aspas has great movement, but is played out of position, which limits his effectiveness. It's early days yet, but if after, say, eight games, he still hasn't scored, fans will start getting on his back.

To be honest, I really don't understand Rodgers' thinking. Why does he insist on buying strikers to play on either side of the main striker? Why not just buy dedicated wide players?! Yes, the likes of Aspas and Borini can 'do a job', but the club should be buying specialists for these roles, not shoehorning square pegs into round holes in the hope that it might work out.

At Celta, Aspas proved his creative worth, and in pre-season, he did fantastically well. However, there's a massive difference between barely competitive pre-season games and the Premier League, and I have a nasty feeling that he is going to suffer the same fate as Borini.

I'd prefer to see Aspas playing centrally, just behind the striker, relieved of the responsibility of having to drift out wide:

------------------------- Sturridge

------------------- Aspas

Coutinho ---------------------------- Suarez

------------- Gerrard ---- Lucas

Coutinho should also play centrally, but out of the two, the Brazilian is far more effective as the wide option in a front three.

Playing Aspas on the right/left side of a front three is (IMO) wasting his creativity, and like Borini, Rodgers could be setting him up to fail.

I made this exact same argument about Borini last season, and fans were convinced that he'd come good playing out wide.

Well, where is Borini now?

NOTE: Please stick to the Comment Policy (Click to read)


  1. He is a squad player as is Borini, they have to play where the boss tells them to play. They won't play when Suarez is back in the side, It's all about the squad strength!!!
    By the way JK!!!............can you do a premier league table since the start of 2013, with all the relevant stats????.......... :-)

  2. Hey Tony - good idea :-) I'll get that done.

  3. Aspas spends a lot of time down the middle anyway. His primary role is out wide though because Sturridge is a monster in the central striker role right now. Aspas still gets inside quite a bit like during the United game, however he was terrible that day, he lost his touch and spark. Rodgers seems to have settled for a 4-3-3 and maybe he wants the front 3 to be dynamic and interchanging. Wingers in our system are not traditional anyway, they never hug the touchline, they are always very central. I can quote Rodgers from a meeting with some journos and we was talking tactics, "It's like playing with 3 strikers" - so there you go. Focus next match, Aspas will be inside but when someone like Sterling comes on who's a natural wide man, things will change.

    IMO this doesn't have anything to do with Borini though. Aspas is playing because Suarez is unavailable. Borini played out wide because Rodgers at the time shunned Downing, Henderson and Assaidi and desperately tried to justify the price tag of his comfort buy.

  4. Aspas is playing in the position he was brought in to play and it's not out wide, why are people saying that? He's actually playing quite centrally but the issue is that much of the action starts deeper than he's used to. That just means he can't sit on the defender's shoulder and look for through-balls. He has to come from a deeper starting position and work harder for the team to link up and get the ball to an attacking position.

    This is actually the primary role that Suarez had last year and it does require a lot of work. Suarez would often come deep or have to drift out wide to take the ball as part of the build up. That's what Aspas is talking about and it's not at all to do with the incorrect assumption that he's being played in a wide role. He's not. He's just having to adjust to a style of play that's asking him to do more than simply run in attacking channels behind the defenders. That might turn out to be an issue for him just as if he was asked to play out wide, but Rodgers brought Aspas in very specifically because he thought he would do well in this role or any other position across the front line.

    I think so far he's done well and I can see exactly the kind of qualities he brings that make him a good player in that position. He find space well and makes good passes all around the pitch, his movement is precise and predictable and he still manages to get forward to try and get in behind the defenders after all the hard work is done. Just watch him again in the Stoke game where we were playing exactly the kind of football that we wanted to. Aspas really fit in well, had a ton of good touches and was involved in most good things we did in the game.

  5. The way I see it, we have played a 4-2-2-2, with Henderson and Coutinho in Advanced right and left AM positions, and Aspas in a free roaming role behind Sturridge. I think it is incorrect to say Aspas is primarily playing on the wing.

  6. He was clearly brought in to bring depth to squad and he's shown some good movement and touches, particularly in the Stoke game. expect him to have more influence, when played, in home games when we have more control of games.
    But we also need to give him time to adjust and settle. He's older and more experienced than Borini and I'd expect him to be more effective 2nd half of season or next year.

  7. This web site does an excellent "heat map" analysis for a player during a game:


    Check out the heat maps for Aspas vs Sturridge. Very similar centrally focused roles with a tendency to shift right when trying to find space. The main difference between Sturridge and Aspas is that Sturridge has more action higher up the pitch. That's what Aspas is talking about - he's being asked to do more work in deeper positions. If that ends up having an effect on his over performance and confidence ... I don't know. I do hope he gets some goals this season, even 5-10 would be enough to ensure he feels like he's contributing on the scoreboard and not just doing donkey work.

  8. He was brought in to LFC to do a job, he has to get used to a new life style, a new style of play and new surroundings (it must be difficult) this will take time, he has played alright thus far and i think he will be a good squad player.

  9. Only three games...a little early to worry about Aspas. I do wish he was more aggressive toward goal but even if does do that, Daniel needs to pass a bit to have opponents respect scoring threats From some other guys. Otherwise Dan is going to have three guys in his shorts all the time...

  10. Have you been watching the games? He's playing in behind sturridge? Henderson right and coutinho left although he drifts inwards a lot, Jainism that's exactly where he's been playing, he's not been wide right

  11. Agreed with Pete.

    Next game vs Swansea, Aspas may play central if Sturridge does not start the game because of fitness/injury. Front 3 may be Coutinho, Sterling, Aspas and all 3 can rotate fluidly across the front line.

    If all squad is available, pool can easily play with a rotating front 4 as both Suarez and Sturridge enjoy dropping for the ball in midfield. From left to right the front 4 can be


    However, such an attacking set up will increase pressure on Gerrard/Lucas in CM- and this may be a risk.

    The modern game has developed with top teams changing shape, positions and tactics fluidly throughout the game. The top teams are those change their style in the game and impose the opponent to adapt to the change. I think Rodgers is toying with the same ideas. 4-3-3/4-5-1/4-4-2 and when pool need to defend a tight result, why not shift to 3-5-2/5-3-2

    Last comment: with the acquisition of Sakho and Llori, I would not be surprised that when required Toure is moved forward to replace Lucas when he is not available. After all, that is were his career started with Arsenal....

  12. Good players can play anywhere. Dirk Kuyt is the best example.

  13. The most sensible comment so far, aspas gets on some great positions but hasnt received the ball yet. I love d sturridge but as ron points out, there are situations when he should pass the ball, same with suarez when he returns.

    So i do feel a bit for aspas, although he was our worst playeer against utd! I thinl he did pretty well first two games although not well enough to keep suarez out when he returns.

    As for borini, he hasnt shown me anything, poor touch, poor finosher and poor movement (despite what jamie says). Lets see what he does at sunderland, but i dont see him making it in a million years. Maybe he's suited to the italian league, definitly not the premier league. Only john flanagan left to get rid of from the squad now - hes one of the worst players i can remember pull on a liverpool shirt, certainly in recent times!

    Overall great start to the season, im hoping we have now actually rememberes how to grind out wins as weve watched utd do for so many years!

  14. Its a long season and rogers likes forwards who can shift around. The two best crosses from last season came in the same game at home to chelski and it was suarez and sturridge who crossed. Aspas is third choice to start centre forward so if sturridge isn't fit for swansea with suarez still out aspas should play up front.

  15. My understanding is that Rodgers system requires the forward players to interchange positions regularly. Aspas was probably purchased to be a squad player so he could fit into any of the front 3 positions. I think he's done reasonably well so far. Personally, I don't think he would have had any more success playing centrally as he would've been physically out-muscled by opposition centre backs. Starting out wide, he'd have more space to play his game. Borini was injured for the majority of the season, and Aspas has only played 4 competitive games, so not really sure how or why you are comparing the two at this early stage. Aspas is playing because Suarez cannot, and because Moses was only a recent purchase. He'll likely be on the bench soon, regardless.

  16. Well, you said it all really.

  17. aspas plays a support role for the striker and interchanges with sturridge and coutinho...he has played more central than out wide so what the hell r u talking about

  18. aspas is the 3rd best striker at the moment....he needs to prove that he is good enough.for the centre foward role.......which he wont be and never will be.......rodgers bought him to play in the position he has played...simple as that

  19. I don't know which games you were watching but he played just behind Sturridge every PL game so far. Have a look at average position on these links:

  20. Aspas may spend time playing centrally, but as you say, he spends a lot of time out wide, and that's the problem. The nature of the system dictates that he'll be out wide a lot, and he isn't very effective in that role.

  21. Does he play out wide? Could've fooled me?

  22. one of the problem with the system rogers uses is the the right players are few and far between so you have to ask players to adapt to roles they are unfamiliar with....the ideal forward is a cross between dalgleish ( to hold it up ) barnes ( to run wide ) and rush ( to finish ) just how many players like this are there.....not to many if any


  23. hes an example of a guy who did an average to above average job ...he wasn't top class in any position

  24. I think, he 'll be back up central striker. He had to play at wide positions due to absence of Suarez & off-loading of Downing, we were really short of wide players. He is very good with his ball skills with passing & positional sense. I think he 'll be used as 3rd striker & backup AM for Coutinho. Very good squad player for the age, price & salary; also, he 'll never be upset for sitting on bench as his International position isn't dependent on that.

  25. As long as henderson plays idc what Rodgers does with the line up

  26. he reminds me of a smaller version of danny murphy...but he isn't a wide player in the memory of man no matter what anyone says

  27. I think he is just going to have to get use to it, as I don't think he'll ever be a regular first XI for us in the long run, especially when Rodgers was looking at a big money attacking midfielder in Henrikh. Aspas will get moments behind the front man and main man but he will also be playing fair chunk of his appearances out wide. He is a back up player that will cover a few positions. If anything, supposed to be easier to bed in a player of his ilk in a wide position before moving him into the middle in this league. So he should try to look it at like that in a positive way, especially in his first season in PL.

  28. I remember reading an article from Aspas a while ago saying he'd be happy to play anywhere along the frontline, if your a good player you can play anywhere was his words... I've been happy enough with him so far, he hasn't set any game alight but he's done a job, I can see Suarez replacing him when he comes back tho and sticking with Sturridge up top and coutinho and Suarez switching in the game... We now also have Moses remember and Henderson has done really well

  29. Assaidi, Borini and Aspas....unfortunate transfers. Though its too soon to be judgmental about all 3 of them as no one really got a full run of starting every game yet.

  30. I think he's a really good signing, obviously he's going to need some time to settle in Liverpool, but he does look like a really creative player.. And his stats indicate that he could be a great acquisition for us, he created more goalscoring opportunities than Messi and Ronaldo, in a team fighting relegation. Not that they necessarily prove anything, but they do provide an indicator to his quality.
    I think that he has the ethic to be a good Utility player, either at no. 10, out wide or even at no.9 (He reminds me of both Bellers and Kuyt in certain ways).
    I think we should keep him Wide Right for now, as being the only left footed attacker other than Sturridge nobody else could play there as an introverted winger- And Johnson can provide the width. I don't think it's a waste of creativity per say, as our players often drift around in a free form system, and as he showed as against Stoke, there are plenty of opportunities for him to come inside (where he bagged an assist). If we're in the position where Johnson needs to devote his time to time to playing a more defensive role, I'd say that we'd be better having someone trike Hendo there to provide the width. Saying this, I do think that he would do a good job at the no. 10 role and we should look to mix it up a bit, both in matches and game to game.

  31. I see what you are doing there, you want a Sturrcoutinho (Sturtinho) league table..lol

  32. aspas was a wigher before

  33. this is our best attack
    suarez up front
    sturridge right coutinho central
    gerrard and lucas in midfield
    with henderson , moses and sterling competing for the left slot

  34. Simply put, he's a victim of numbers.

    The two players that have to play centrally are Coutinho and Sturridge.

    While those players are in with Suarez, Suarez will probably play out wide since he can handle the responsibilities.

    The real question is going to be when Coutinho or Sturridge sit, will Suarez stay out wide, or will he go into the middle...

  35. Aspas is playing the position he has more or less always played for Celta though he does now have more to do defensively so finds himself further back. That is not to say he has not played as a number 10 and a main striker, he has. It is only three games into the new season in a new league, new team so to make a decisive judgement on his effectiveness within the team may be a little harsh. I feel he has shown enough to suggest that once he has adapted he will prove to be a valuable asset to the team able to cover a few positions. He along with the other new signings has me looking forward to the season ahead.

    Exciting times.

  36. I may be nuts, but I wouldn't change what we are doing right now, including Aspas. Moving is great, interchange is great, but someone other than Dan needs to shoot and from closer in than 25 yards out! I also like the idea of subbing in Jordan Ibe for either Aspas or someone else to generate some offense. I think he is a sniper and will be very successful in the prem......

  37. He IS playing behind Sturridge. Have you even watched our opening games?

  38. To be honest Aspas doesn't play out wide, Henderson does. In all 3 games Aspas has rather been playing just behind Sturridge.

  39. No offence Jamie, but you and me watch the team at most 90 minutes a week, BR and the coaching team watch them nearly every day.....on top of the fact that they have been doing this all their lives. He and his team know what they are doing.
    I personally do not think he has settled at all yet - and having watched a few Celta games at the end of last season, after we were initially linked with him, definitely think there is a lot more to come. Borini proved time and again when given the chance that he cant hit the back of the net - one of the worst finishers I have seen wearing the liverpool shirt in recent years!
    Agreed Coutinho looks better out wide, and would rather see Moses on the other wing with Suarez causing havoc in the hole. Don't think Aspas is there yet, but dont think its fair to compare him to Borini....

  40. I think you have totally "debunked a myth" sir!!

  41. This one is one of some very cruciate, very significant, couple of un-solved ones that LFC face in order to maximize their play and give top 4 a better chance to become solid reality.

    The others, by the way, in my opinion, are the center back's overload and how to solve it [i say Toure and Sakho at least for the beginning], Then there's the lack of competition in midfield [Alberto and Henderson should get real rude on this department asap, Allen two (his who we have)]. These being the main ones that i can think of at the moment. LB still seems like a problem in my eyes, you might say that dealing with the Johnson injury is another - Would say Kelly on this one but without any total confidence.

    Anyway my point here: Great approach to the Aspas uncertainty the floated around. Very nice piece.

  42. Kaimiee Kunt Janiee9:51 pm, September 08, 2013

    Yo bitch here's another heading for your shit-ticle:

    "Jamie Kuntwar reveals himself as fake Liverpool Fan - instead, he's just pure manure. Even His mother has disowned him saying he is just a lowlife. Should we feel sympathy?"

    On another note - hey all LFC fans, stop coming to this site and feed him with hits. Then Jaimie Kuntwar will only wither and dry up like his balls. He said "Fuck off" when asked of he was going to pay £500 he promised to Hillsborough Charities". Read up about his lies on well documented real LFC fans sites.

    Peace to all & even to you fucktard Kuntwar! :P

  43. Aspas has spent most the time behind Sturridge while Henderson is out wide

  44. He had a one on one chance at Aston villa where he beat the offside trap but the linesman got it wrong. He's had couple chances against stoke. And he isn't exactly hugging the touch line like navas. He is given the license to roam to the centre when sturridge drops off. But we are not using him to his strengths that's for sure. I'm sure he could be another michu if we did play him in the centre. He will come good I'm sure of it.

  45. --------------aspas
    I strongly think aspas can be another michu. No point giving him the no. 9 for him to score 1 or 2 goals a season. Liverpool a no. 9s have always been feared throughout history exc Carroll. No reason why he can't be a success

  46. Just to clarify: You want Coutinho AND Suarez to play out wide (where they are both less effective) so that Aspas can play through the middle?? LOL!

  47. I don't agree with that at all. Aspas spends no more time on the right than Sturridge and he doesn't put in crosses or go to the by-line. What aspect of his play is not suited to taking up a position on the right side of the box?

  48. I believe that Aspas will settle at Liverpool, and start to score goals. Borini is a different kettle of fish; he seemed a little short of top class, and was lacking in confidence. Aspas seems to really want to get involved, and if the goal in the pre season game against Preston is anything to go by, we should see some return for his transfer fee pretty soon.

  49. Thought the same thing about Toure playing DM - great possibility really.

    Big game for Aspas vs Swansea if he starts or given a decent amount of pitch time.

  50. By the way, Stturidge wrote him off in first 15 minutes of manu match with those two no passings, he got himself on the right place in the right time but just did not get the ball. After that he got frustrated and faded away in attack with quite a few fouls, but good defensive play overall, especially for a lightweight player...