Liverpool have brought four players in during the present transfer window, with the same number exiting the club to date on permanent deals. The club also confirmed a departure on loan this week, with attacking midfielder Suso heading to Almeria on a season-long loan.
The club's official website confirmed on Friday that the 19-year-old would move to the Primera Division club, having spent the summer participating at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey for Spain.
Whilst the move might be good for the player in terms of Suso getting more game time than he might have been told he would get at Anfield this season, it is a little disappointing for one of the better young performers from last season to be leaving whilst some of those underperformers from the past few seasons remain on permanent deals at the club.
Admittedly, Suso has not yet managed to put a full season of top-notch performances in himself, but he brings a calmness on the ball and an aura of creativity that, still, too few other Reds can manage.
A versatile midfielder, Suso has most often featured for the Reds on the right side of the attack, with a few performances in a more central, attacking midfield role.
Arguably his best role, though, will in years to come be seen as the deeper midfielder, with a defensive player alongside him. Suso will have the space and time on the ball to utilise his passing and vision to its greatest effect.
Right now, Liverpool have Steven Gerrard in that role, so Suso's time on the pitch was going to be restricted to the more attacking positions.
While the left of Liverpool's attack looks considerably stocked with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe, Phil Coutinho, Fabio Borini, Luis Alberto and perhaps even Luis Suarez all capable of challenging for a berth, the opposite side is a different matter.
Stewart Downing was the first choice for the second half of last season in that position, taking over from Suso himself in December, but there remains speculation of his future. West Ham United is said to be interested in Downing, according to ESPN.
Other than the English winger, new signing Iago Aspas can play there but might feature more often centrally. Oussama Assaidi can also feature on either wing, but he is also likely to move on.
That's about the extent of Liverpool's options on the right at present, without switching one of those more at home on the left—or central—to the other flank.
The Reds are certainly looking for reinforcements in the attacking midfield line, but things are far from certain as to the position or quality of player that the club will eventually tempt this summer.
Would Suso not have merited a place in the squad to feature 20 times once more, as he did last season?
The player himself did not want to leave. He quite plainly stated as much in an interview transcribed on The Liverpool Word:
Well I want to play games. It’s true I’m happy at Liverpool but I what I want is to play. I’ve got right now offers in other places and we’ll talk about whether I have to stay or whether I have to go on loan. I have options in both places [England and Spain].
If he goes to Almeria and plays 30 or 35 times, it might be a case of the ends justifying the means, in that he will get perhaps double the amount of minutes on the pitch than he might have done staying at Liverpool this season.
But it is far from clear cut that this will be the case; Suso hasn't played that many games in a row at senior level yet, and he will be a new face at a newly promoted side.
He'll have to work just as hard there to win a place as he would at Liverpool.
Should Liverpool have let Suso leave on loan?
Meanwhile, the Reds will be seeking to replace him with an established senior, meaning competition will be even more fierce for him by the time he returns.
Had he been given another chance this campaign at the club, he could have shown even further what he is capable of and been ready to push for a regular spot in the starting XI.
It's not that Suso is going on loan which is the disappointment for his fans, but that so many players still remain on the first-team scene who are clearly not part of the plans going forward. Meanwhile, Suso himself is allowed to benefit a team elsewhere.
The hope must be now that he does get the game time he wants, he does improve immeasurably—and that Liverpool do find a place for him next year.