Suso: why Liverpool sold him in the first place – and how his Milan form has sparked Spurs rumours

Suso: why Liverpool sold him in the first place – and how his Milan form has sparked Spurs rumours

Following a disappointing first transfer window in charge of Liverpool that left his squad lacking depth in attack, Brendan Rodgers opted to promote two gifted teenagers to the first team at the start of the 2012-13 season.

Linking up with the likes of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard were 17-year-old Raheem Sterling and 18-year-old Suso, both of whom had joined the Liverpool academy in 2010 from QPR and Cadiz, respectively.

The duo featured prominently that campaign, Sterling making 36 appearances and Suso 20 across all competitions, however, the former retained his place in the side while the latter faded away before eventually departing Anfield.

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When Liverpool and Sterling were fighting it out for the Premier League title in 2013-14, Suso was desperately trying to help Almeria avoid relegation from La Liga – a feat they managed by finishing a point and place above the drop zone.

He returned to Merseyside the following season but after just one solitary first-team appearance in the League Cup, he left for AC Milan in January 2015 for a cut-price fee of £1 million with his contract due to expire six months later.

Suso celebrating his one and only goal in Liverpool colours against Middlesbrough in 2014.

A few months later, Sterling left too, joining Manchester City for £50m. The England international carried on developing in the Premier League and Suso has done likewise in Serie A, becoming one of Milan’s most valuable players this season.

So promising has the 23-year-old’s form been, he has been tipped to make a return to the Premier League, with Mauricio Pochettino reportedly looking into adding him to his Tottenham squad next term.

Should Suso indeed seal a return to the Premier League, he will come back as a far more refined talent but what would Spurs be gaining if they pursued a move for the former Spain Under-21 international?

Serie A season so far

Appearances: 27

Goals: 6

Assists: 7

Take ons: 58/89

Key attributes

Creativity

Suso has been a key creative presence for Milan this season, supplying more chances (47) than anyone else in the squad while he also tops their assists chart with seven – three more than Everton loanee Gerard Deulofeu.

Furthermore, he is top for forward passes completed in the opposition half (214), crosses completed (26) and is joint first for successful through balls played – alongside Giacomo Bonaventura – with three.

What this shows is that despite operating as a right winger, Suso has been more heavily involved in the final third of the pitch than any other player in Milan’s side and has, therefore, been their go-to man in attack.

Dribbling

Another aspect of the game that Suso excels at is dribbling as shown by his 58 successful take-on attempts so far this season at a rate of 65%, which works out at 2.30 per game.

While not lightning quick, Suso does have a good turn of pace that enables him to burst free of and commit opposition defenders and as you’d expect of a Spanish midfielder he’s also very strong technically, possessing excellent close control and quick feet.

His excellent goal against Lazio last month showed off his dribbling and close control as he evaded the challenge of three players before bending the ball into the far corner.

Something that sets him apart from other young wingers, meanwhile, is that he plays with his head up, generally picking and choosing when and where to carry the ball. The fact that he started out as a No.10 no doubt helps him in this regard.

Finishing

Although the 2016-17 season still has a couple of months left to run, Suso has already matched his best goal return for a season with six in the league, emulating his total with Genoa from last season.

The young Spaniard enjoyed a purple patch in November, scoring three times in as many matches, including twice in the 2-2 draw against city rivals Inter.

As you can see from the above graphic, Suso’s goals have tended to be very similar in execution with him cutting in from the right flank and finding the far corner with his left foot, Arjen Robben-esque.

Although his goals have dried up a bit recently, Suso has still converted a reasonable 15.4% of his chances and hit the target with 59% of his efforts on goal.

How would he fit in at Spurs?

Pochettino has rotated his formation on numerous occasions this season but the two systems that he seems to favour the most given the personnel at his disposal are 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-2-1.

The former has been Pochettino’s default system throughout his managerial career and Suso would likely slot in to the right wing position in that setup. It has been a slight problem area for Spurs this season, given Erik Lamela’s injury troubles and Moussa Sissoko’s poor form.

Suso would also be a good fit to play as an inverted forward, tucked in from the right in a 3-4-2-1 too given his natural inclination to cut inside as well and ability to fashion chances.

In terms of his style of play, Suso is most similar to Lamela in Spurs’ squad due to his dribbling style and inside forward position, while he is also happy to press from the front too.