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Iago Aspas: Forgetting Liverpool, destroying Barcelona, starring again at Celta de Vigo

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]iverpool have struck up a significant affinity with Spanish players over the last generation, with former manager Rafa Benítez starting the influx of his countrymen from the Iberian nation to Merseyside.

While some, such as Luis García, Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina and to an extent Fernando Torres, will be remembered for their sublime abilities, the Kop will want to forget a number of others.

Despite the failed tenures of some of his compatriots, the Spanish player that draws the most ire from the Anfield faithful is surely Iago Aspas.

The versatile attacker arrived at the Premier League club in the summer of 2013 with a burgeoning reputation, leaving his boyhood club Celta de Vigo for an adventure in England.

Over 18 years on the Balaídos club’s books, Aspas had progressed through the ranks and become a fans’ favourite to lead the line.

The 28-year-old played a key role in getting the Galician club promoted to La Liga, scoring 23 league goals in 2011-12 to send Celta back to the big time.

A solitary campaign in Spain’s top flight was fruitful, with talk of a Spanish national team call-up during a season where he scored 12 times for the newly-promoted outfit.

Liverpool moved quickly to seal his signature the following summer, but his time in England will be remembered as a complete failure.

A struggle to adapt to the pace of the Premier League was compounded by injury concerns and a lack of first-team opportunities.

In all, Aspas only started five league games for the Reds following an €8.2 million move to Anfield and quickly became something of a joke figure for both his own fans and those of the opposition.

Iago AspasLast season the Spaniard spent the campaign on loan at eventual Europa League winners Sevilla, but again it was largely as a fringe figure.

Four La Liga starts were all he would receive at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán and although he did put in some solid showings in cup competitions when given the chance, the two-year spell away from his boyhood club will go down as a period to forget for the player.

Aspas returned to Balaídos this summer, bolstering the club’s attacking options after an excellent eighth-placed finish last term under Eduardo Berizzo.

However, with the returning striker having a point to prove and some unheralded players at the Argentine trainer’s mercy, Celta look determined to continue their period of over-achievement this term.

The north west club hosted European and Spanish champions Barcelona in midweek, with Lionel Messi and star-studded company arriving having won their first four La Liga games.

Celta were not overawed and were good value for their commanding 4-1 victory over the Catalan powerhouses; a result that leave Berizzo’s men unbeaten from their first five games and equal with Real Madrid and Villarreal on 13 points at the top of the table.

Aspas scored the decisive second and third goals in the beating of Barcelona and already looks like the player that dazzled in his first tenure at Celta rather than the one that failed spectacularly in England.

As has been proven by another former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, returning home, in his case to Atlético Madrid, is the perfect tonic to regain confidence and former glories.

Although Aspas is no world beater in anyone’s book, the attacking trident he has formed with Nolito and Chilean attacker Fabián Orellana clearly has opposition defences on the back foot.

The Moaña-born local boy is seemingly re-cementing his status as a Balaídos favourite, with his rejuvenation back at Celta fitting after 24 months of pain.

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