Benitez hails Aquilani addition

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Liverpool closed in on the signing of Roma's Alberto Aquilani on Thursday with boss Rafael Benitez insisting the midfielder will "excite" the fans.

The 25-year-old Italy international also received the backing of former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise, a team-mate with the Rome club.

Aquilani is due on Merseyside for a medical and to complete a £20million four-year deal and Benitez said: "Roma have allowed us to talk with him, so that's good and positive. He is a player with the quality we are looking for. He is a good passer, the final ball is good, and he also works. If he can settle down properly in England he can be a very good addition."

He added: "He can play a little bit higher (further forward) than Javier Mascherano - maybe between him and Steven Gerrard.

"I think the signing should excite the fans. He won the under-19 European Championship with his country, and the under-21 too. He has some trophies, including the Italian Cup.

"I always remember one game - England versus Italy Under-21s at Wembley, and he was man of the match in a 3-0 win."

Aquilani's departure from Roma comes with the club captain Francesco Totti claiming: "Alberto will be missed very much by everyone here."

That includes Riise, who joined Roma from Liverpool for £4million in June 2008.

Riise said: "When I first came to Roma, I didn't know a thing about Aquilani. I knew all about Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Philippe Mexes, of course, but Aquilani was the player who surprised me the most in my first months with what he could do.

"He's really good on the ball, with good passing and good movement. He works hard and is a good professional. He likes to have the ball at his feet but not because he likes to dribble, he just wants to keep the team moving. He never stands still, he is always on the run."

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Steven Gerrard
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