Jesús Joaquín Fernández Sáez de la Torre is Liverpool's number 30. Thankfully for you, me and the kit man he prefers to be called Suso on the pitch. Young Suso began his footballing life at the age of 12. He was signed for the youth team of his hometown of Cádiz. He is a player who has represented Spain U17s and U21s and everywhere in between. He was also apart of the European championship winning U19 team
For me I feel like the lad has been at the club a lot longer than he has. After impressing academy coaches from all over, including Barça and Real, he chose Liverpool. It took a call from Rafa to convince the youngster that Anfield was the place to be for him. "The phone rang and Rafa Benitez spoke to me. He convinced me that Liverpool was the team for me and after that I had changed my plans. I was going to come to Liverpool" (Good Lad!!). Suso was one day away from signing with Real Madrid's academy
So where has he been?
After joining the club in 2010 the original plan to stick him in the academy was scrapped and he was instantly promoted to the reserves. We as Liverpool fans have seen him in spurts. Similar to how Sterling was first introduced into the first team. Making a run of appearances back in September 2012, while picking up high praise from Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers made sure to mention how impressed he was with Suso's "maturity and commitment"
Later in 2012 chances in the first team became harder for Suso. This was due to the immediate success of players like Coutinho and Sturridge. Coupled with outstanding outings from Sterling. Suso was back in the reserves but not forgotten
The chance for a loan spell to Almería was the perfect for Suso to show us what he has. From @LFC Suso had this to say "Its a chance for me to show that I can be an important player for #LFC"
So what did Liverpool and we as fans learn from this loan to Almería?
We got to see his strengths and weaknesses and where he needs to improve. So let's get stuck in! Suso's a nibble, quick footed player, who is very good in tight spaces. He has an outstandingly strong left foot, which he can successfully demonstrate from free kicks. He is a player who is predominantly a pass first attacking midfielder similar to how Coutinho plays. His pace is a huge advantage, with break away speed which creates separation with and without the ball. Similar to Sterling. Please not the use of the word similar and not to mistake it as using the phrase "same as". Coutinho is a better passer and Sterling is faster. There is no debate there. But where he is the same as the two players that are above him in the pecking order, is his versatility. He showed such versatility while away at Almería. Suso played a variety of positions while in La Liga. He had spells on the right wing. His favoured position, with his powerful left foot he enjoys cutting inside. He also had games as a left attacking midfielder, central attacking midfielder and as a deep lying forward. All positions that can be utilised in a BR formation. Per Phil Reade for liverpool fc.com Rodgers is on record as saying "if we can get players in who are multi-functional, can play in different roles and are multi-dimensional in their work, it sets us up"."it gives me more options as a coach".
The negatives that were clear to see was his erratic passing at times. Finishing the season with a pass completion percentage of 72.2%, as per Allan Jiang of the Bleacher report. This would put him dead last among current Liverpool midfielders. At times he can be shot shy. Tending to take the extra touch or to try to make the extra pass when it is unnecessary. A huge draw back is his defending which can be MIA at best.
So where will he fit in?
Well BR mentioned Suso in his press conference after the Middlesbrough game saying that "He has come in, put his head down and got on with it."This shows me that he has the makings of a player BR likes. A player that with hard work on the training pitch will find his way onto the park at Anfield. So where on that park does he play? He is a ready made replacement do Sterling and Coutinho. With the large fixture list that Liverpool has this season both Coutinho and Streling will need that extra rest day that BR preaches about. They will need games off and when they do we can place Suso in there to pick up from where they left off. I'm glad that he is getting a chance and if media reports are true he could find his way into the Derby on Saturday. Possibly playing where Coutinho may have played if he can't get over his knock. Or coming on for Sterling, who played every minute of the marathon game on Tuesday. The perfect back up. That's what he is right now. And he will fill that role effectively.