21 Midfielder Liverpool Spain
2014 has been...
He arrived at Anfield in early 2010 after a personal intervention from Rafa Benitez. The next big thing in Spanish football didn’t need to go to Barcelona, nor did he have to accept Real Madrid’s lucrative offer. No, Suso could realise his potential and become a star on Merseyside.
No sooner had one Spaniard arrived at Anfield than another departed. With his team in decline, Benitez was relieved of his duties by the then Reds management. None of this mattered to Jesús Joaquín Fernández Sáenz de la Torre though, he was a Liverpool player now and the club were appropriately ecstatic to have secured the starlet. Schooled by Cadiz, Suso was a standout Spanish youngster from another batch of standout Spanish youngsters. A jet heeled, two footed winger cum striker, here was a kid that had the lot. Trickery, pace, strength, guile and a useful knack for hitting a football rather hard.
After serving his time with the reserves, Suso was given a first team debut by new coach Brendan Rodgers in a Europa League match against Young Boys in September 2012. Having impressed, he was drafted into the first team squad for that weekend’s Premier League visit of Manchester United. After a poor start to his new job, Rodgers’ team gradually began to gain fluency and a five match winless run was replaced by a nine game unbeaten one.
Suso played his part in Liverpool’s revival without making his inclusion in the first eleven a given. Operating on both the right and left flanks and, occasionally, through the middle, he offered an outlet ball and used his pace to good effect, distracting opposition defenders and allowing Luis Suarez to begin his phenomenal goal scoring run. As Suarez’ powers began to peak, Rodgers used Suso less and less and the emergence of Raheem Sterling and arrival of Coutinho gave Liverpool’s play a further dimension that the Spaniard was unable to compliment.
In order to revive their player, Liverpool sensibly sent Suso out on loan to Almeria last season and he started life at his new club extremely well. However, it didn’t take long for the reality of just how hard a season this would be for Rojiblancos, and a ten match run without victory was punctuated with seven defeats.
To his credit, Suso looked as able a player as any available to coach Francisco Rodríguez and, despite a long season of toil, a superb late flurry of results saw his team escape relegation by the slimmest of margins. Suso was hardly prolific, but certainly played his part alongside Verza, Rodri and Aleix Vidal in staving off relegation.
Ultimately Suso’s vital free kick at Espanyol In late April will be long remembered by Almeria fans. His goal was the catalyst for survival and sparked enough of a revival to haul the team from nailed on relegation fodder to a more serene 17th place and safety. Recalled to Liverpool by Brendan Rodgers in the summer, Suso was involved in pre season and made the bench for The Reds’ Champions league return in September. Of note is his bizarre hat trick (one goal in normal time and TWO penalty kicks in the shoot out) in a league cup tie against Middlesbrough, but with a groin injury currently keeping him away from the first team squad, and the impending end of his contract looming, you have to wonder if that may be that.
While his agent continues to make claims that Suso will be staying at Anfield, no new contract has been secured and the player is able to talk to other clubs in January. He may well have had an opportunity to earn a longer stay at the club had injury not wrecked the first half of this season.
Whether Liverpool decide to persevere with the Spaniard is open to debate, but with little to show for his five years in England, you have to imagine a parting of the ways is the most likely outcome. Of late, Milan have been mentioned as being keen on Suso and he will represent an intriguing free transfer for someone should that situation arise, but it’s unlikely that the next great hope for Spanish football will live up to his early billing, wherever he may end up. Hope has long since moved on.
"It's not as if he's not going to have a career, but there's a real element of what could have been here. Sometimes, they just never reach that potential." - Jeff Livingstone
"Suso (7) was the youngest player to provide five or more assists in La Liga last season." - OptaJoe
D Declining from a low start point.
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