It might have taken him until the end of April but Alberto Aquilani could finally have made the impression that everyone was waiting for.

Cast aside as a multi-million pound ‘flop’ by the media despite hardly kicking a ball, Aquilani’s display against Atletico Madrid should extinguish any lingering belief that the Italian is simply ‘not good enough’.

On the subject, does anyone know what happened to players from abroad being given time to settle into new surroundings? Patrice Evra, Didier Drogba and Thierry Henry are classic examples of players who never set the World alight when they first joined the Premier League.

It has been known for players to take over a season to reach the top of their game. In that sense, it could take until midway through next season before we really see the ‘best’ of Aquilani.

Regardless, the lad was clearly never a bad player as some may have you believe.

Speaking in August last year, ex-Red John Arne Riise said: “When I first came to Roma, I didn’t know a thing about Aquilani.

“I knew all about Francesco 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, 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’s always on the run.”

Riise’s glowing reference looked spot on against Atletico where Aquilani’s goal capped off a fine performance. Impressive as it was, a late-run into the Italian national team for the World Cup probably isn’t out of the question.

Granted, its one game, and while Alberto has showed signs of promise in previous outings (most notably against Portsmouth), it was ever-so more prevalent that on such a grand stage Il Principino swaggered his way into the hearts of an adoring Anfield.

Playing in an advanced position (the role usually occupied by Steven Gerrard) the Italian’s touch, awareness, vision and technique was there for all to see as the Spaniard’s failed to deal with Aquilani’s movement ‘in between the lines’.

Interestingly enough, Aquilani’s best showing prior to Thursday (v Portsmouth) came in a slightly deeper role, perhaps demonstrating that he could be equally adept as a holding player.

While it was apparent that the slightly deeper role certainly nullified the impact of Gerrard, Aquilani gave the kind of performance that the skipper has been expected to deliver for much of the season (not a bash on Gerrard, had a poor season, yes, but still one of the best midfield players in Europe for me).

Linking play between the midfield and forward line, Aquilani’s movement (something Liverpool were sorely lacking earlier in the season) was a joy to behold. If he is able to replicate similar performances in the future there’s no reason why the Italian can’t become an established act in the Liverpool first eleven, equalling the status’ of Reina, Mascherano, Gerrard and Torres.

Of course the down side to Aquilani is his injury record, with constant problems stuttering his career to date. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Rafa Benitez would only have signed such a player if he was extremely talented.

On Thursday, Liverpool supporters got their first real sighting of what the ex-Roma star could be capable of in the long-term. Next season could see Aquilani add further weight to his previously-tarnished reputation.