Forgotten men of Liverpool can thrive under Rodgers revolution

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Rafael Benitez and Roy Hodgson may have long since departed Anfield, but the relics of their Liverpool regimes still remain on Merseyside.

When the former paid almost £20 million to Roma in the summer of 2009 to secure the signature of coveted Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani, it heralded the arrival of the second most expensive acquisition in Liverpool history.

Three years later and Aquilani is still at Liverpool, well sort of, and thus far his move from Roma can be viewed as nothing other than a categoric failure, having spent the vast majority of his time as a Red back in the more familiar surroundings of Serie A.

Where there was hope that either Juventus or AC Milan would make respective loan deals in to permanent ones for the 28-year-old, there is now uncertainty as he takes his place back among the Liverpool ranks once again.

Similarly, Joe Cole - a transfer coup completed by Hodgson two years ago - has enjoyed his best days as a Liverpool player away from the club, having spent the entirety of the last campaign on loan with Lille.

Hodgson was unable to extract the best from Cole during his one season with Liverpool, although no manager has ever consistently seen the 30-year-old at his peak, but the proverbial slate has been wiped clean again this summer.

The arrival of Brendan Rodgers supposedly represents the beginning of a new era in Liverpool's illustrious history and, for Aquilani and Cole both, is an opportunity to finally begin their Anfield careers in earnest.

Aquilani is the more likely of the two to depart Anfield this summer, particularly given the saturated midfield department at Liverpool, but the Italy international is determined to prove he can be instrumental under the Rodgers revolution.

"How can you pay £20m for a player and this player is never taken into consideration?" he told BBC Sport.

"I never asked to leave but I was always pushed by the club. I am here and I would like to play for Liverpool but it doesn't depend only on me."

Cole, meanwhile, has trodden as slightly different path to his teammate in his quest for redemption, and opted to extol the virtues of the new manager, having previously worked with Rodgers at Chelsea.

"I am 100 per cent sure that the right man is in the job," explained Cole. “He is the best out there."

If compliments warped the thinking of a manager, then Cole would surely be given the Liverpool armband next season. But the reality is that the he has plenty of work to do to earn his stripes from Rodgers.

The good news for Cole is that, unlike Andy Carroll, he does possess the capability to thrive in the short-passing style soon to be entrenched at Anfield by their new manager.

There are, of course, several obstacles to Cole in his pursuit of a regular starting position, namely the amount of players seemingly above him in the Liverpool selection order.

However, there is perhaps no other player better suited to the Rodgers style currently at his disposal than Cole and, aged 30, it could now be time for the West Ham trainee to establish himself in a deeper central role.

This is a position Aquilani will also be keen to make his own given his wide range of passing, although the Italian's preference for long balls could count against him.

Aquilani, though, has excellent technical ability and provides Rodgers with a more adaptable option in the middle than Charlie Adam, while he can also rival the latter from set-pieces.

Rodgers' is a philosophy that is designed to summon the best from his central schemers, just as Leon Britton proved in the Swansea midfield last season, ending the campaign with stats almost comparable to Xavi.

Britton, though, is far behind Aquilani and Cole in terms of natural ability, and it must surely bode well for both that the Swansea style will be instilled at Liverpool over the summer and beyond.

Rodgers is keen to also bring with him the players that allowed him to execute his ideals at the Liberty Stadium, with Joe Allen his prime target.

However, the Northern Irishman already has the tools among his number to cultivate a Liverpool side in his own image, and resurrect the careers of two faltering stars.

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Joe Cole
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