There could be no worse time for a youngster to break in to the Liverpool first team than those turbulent years of 2009-2011. As the club went through trauma that so nearly crippled it, a host of players came and went leaving little or no mark. Stability and progress were miles off, and it’s of little surprise that some decent young players fell through the cracks.
Emiliano Insua had emerged on the scene as early as 2006. Initially, he was a loan signing from Boca Juniors, but the fullback impressed Benítez with his displays in the reserves and the Club made the move permanent in 2007. But it was the 2008/09 season when hopes were really raised that we had a solid defender coming through the ranks who could do a job for the foreseeable future.
His words to the Liverpool Echo on signing for the club suggested a player raring to go and full of passion for the game:
“Both the players and the fans have that special feeling for football…An intensity, I suppose you’d call it, and that shows when we Argentinian players take to the field.”
The youngster was a solid tackler, physically strong, and good on the ball. He could do the basics very well and didn’t look out of place in the first team. He made a thoroughly solid impression in 2008/09 when called on and looked more than capable to provide competition to Fabio Aurelio at left-back. A stalwart of the Argentinian youth setups, we looked well equipped at left-back, despite the departure of Riise and the floundering Andrea Dossena.
After the dizzying highs of the proceeding years, 2009/10 came like a sucker punch to all Liverpool fans. A staggering eleven defeats were shipped in the League, and thirty-five goals were conceded as the club slipped towards mediocrity.
During all of this, Insua was attempting to hold down a regular starting berth in the side, as Fabio Aurelio continued to struggle with perpetual injuries. The left back’s form sadly began to mirror Liverpool’s and after a few particularly poor showings in the autumn of 2009, his initial confidence began to vanish.
The crowd cottoned on to this vulnerability at fullback and Insua deteriorated with every groan from the home support. His positional play became erratic and individual errors crept in to his game. A stark lack of pace was also a real problem as the youngster was caught out at Manchester United and Benfica that season.
As Spring 2010 brought that miserable campaign to an end, Liverpool were actively in the market for a new left-back and things looked grim for the then twenty-one-year-old. He was shipped off on loan to Galatasaray for the 2010/11 season, his Liverpool career over, just as it was getting started.
A glance at the Argentine’s career since leaving Anfield and the club looks to fully vindicate the club’s decision to jettison Insua when they did.
Treading the path of a career nomad, the left back has played in Turkey, Portugal, Spain and currently, Germany. Despite picking up a title winner’s medal at Atletico with Diego Simeone, Insua featured less than twenty times at the Madrid club before yet another hasty move on loan. With so many switches between clubs and just five caps for his country, the twenty-nine-year-old has never hit the levels so many hoped he might.
However, there’s a note of caution when we consider the fleeting Liverpool career of Emiliano Insua. Had the Argentine come through the ranks a few years later, at a side performing and with the luxury of patience, things may have turned out differently.
It’s worth considering that, at twenty-one, the left-back was thrown in to a struggling team with it’s senior fullback ruled out with injury for most of the campaign. He was subsequently turfed out, replaced by the truly awful Paul Konchesky, which rather sums up the basement low standards the club had to accept in those dark days under Gillet, Hicks, and good ole’ Roy Hodgson. Insua was ultimately not at the required level, but he didn’t really stand a chance in such shoddy surroundings, which is a shame for a youngster who had so much promise.