Liverpool

Scouting Report: Did Liverpool's Almeria Loanee Suso Succeed or Fail?

VALENCIA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 30:  Suso of Almeria in action during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and UD Almeria at Estadio Mestalla on October 30, 2013 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMay 20, 2014

Liverpool loaned 20-year-old Spanish midfielder Suso to La Liga club Almeria last summer. Did he succeed or fail? Here is a scouting report on Suso's loan spell at Almeria.

 

Positives

Suso is an agile, 5'10", 159-pound midfielder predominantly used as a left-footed inverted winger on the right side. 

He has quick short-area movement, regularly creates separation from his marker, is a daring dribbler and entertains fans. 

Incisive passing is his best attribute. 

He registered more assists in La Liga (seven) this season than Atletico Madrid right/left winger Arda Turan (four) and Athletic Bilbao left attacking midfielder Iker Muniain (three). 

Suso's ability to read opposing defences and predict runs was why his connection with Almeria centre-forward Rodri reaped dividends.

Recipients of Suso's AssistsPositionGoals
   
RodriCF4
Jonathan ZongoCF1
Marco TorsiglieriCB1
Verza DM1
   

In the GIF below, Rodri evaded the attention of Getafe centre-back Rafa, and Suso's pass was played directly into the path of Almeria's centre-forward, who scored.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Against Sevilla, Suso identified the miscommunication between centre-back Nicolas Pareja and left-back Alberto Moreno, anticipated Rodri's run and delivered a pinpoint pass.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Levante goalkeeper Keylor Navas will tell you Suso has a long shot in his repertoire, so the Liverpool loanee has the potential to transition into a 10-goals-per-season midfielder.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

The technical ability of Suso is excellent, as evident when he curled a free-kick over Espanyol's wall.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

An underrated trait Suso learned on loan at Almeria was adapting to positional changes and tactical alterations from manager Francisco Rodriguez.

Suso played as a right winger in a 5-4-1, a left attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1, a central attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 and a deep-lying forward in a 4-4-2. 

Source: Marca.com.

Source: Marca.com.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers spoke about his preference for tactically versatile footballers.

"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," Rodgers said, per Phil Reade at Liverpool's official website. "(It) gives me more options as a coach."

Playing multiple positions in various formations at Almeria is an experience that will benefit Suso upon returning to Rodgers' Liverpool.

 

Negatives

What routinely lets Suso down is his careless decision-making embedded by an ad lib and just-do-it mentality.

Suso scored three league goals—none from inside the box.

Why was this the case?

  • Suso indulged in pot-shots—hence why 22 of his shots were blocked.
  • He did not help his cause by being a flagrantly inefficient finisher, scoring three goals from 64 shots. 

Source: Squawka.com.

Passing accuracy was another problem Suso encountered.

Suso finished the season with a 72.2 pass completion percentage, which would be the worst for an outfielder at Liverpool. 

Against OsasunaSuso opted for a low-percentage play in crossing the ball—of the 129 crosses he attempted, 103 were inaccurate. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Source: Squawka.com.

Suso overextended a play against Levante

He dribbled past left attacking midfielder Pedro Rios, evaded left-back Juanfran and should have shot or passed.

Instead, Suso ran straight into defensive midfielder Pape Diop, who led Levante in total tackles (99) and tackles per game (2.9). 

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Suso was scrambling for his life against Elche; two-shot fakes after cutting in, his dink pass was then blocked.

While that broken play would later turn into a goal for Almeria, it captured how chaotic a Suso possession can be. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Though, sometimes the play is short, like against Getafe, when he held onto the ball too long. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

From a defensive point of view, Suso needs to make exponential improvements, as Rodgers discussed the importance of being a two-way player, per Reade: "They have to be so hungry to fight for every ball on every day in training."

Nine players at Almeria and 150 players in La Liga averaged more tackles per game (1.4 plus) than Suso (1.3).

A typical bit of Suso defending was how he approached Barcelona central midfielder Andres Iniesta. He was late to close down, did not cut off the angle and ball-watched as Iniesta accelerated away.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Then there was Suso's Graeme Souness-like tackle on Real Betis centre-back Damien Perquis, which led to a sending off. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Aside from blaming Suso for displaying subpar footballing intelligence, Francisco, a 35-year-old rookie manager, aided and abetted in Suso making more and more what-on-earth-were-you-thinking choices.

Why? Almeria avoided relegation by a single point and Suso contributing to 10 total goals reaffirmed Francisco's gut feeling of permitting the Liverpool loanee to be so reckless. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

 

Bottom Line

Suso has a plethora of holes in his game, but he proved on loan at Almeria that he is a match-winner, and it was a successful spell. 

Buying Adam Lallana from Southampton or giving Suso a run is the debate the Liverpool front office could be having right now.  

League OnlyLallana Suso 
   
Age2620
Goals93
Shots Per Goal7.821.3
Assists67
Key Passes Per Game1.91.0
Pass Completion %84.672.2
Cross Completion %22.920.2
Dribbles Per Game1.81.7
Tackles Per Game1.51.3
Interceptions Per Game1.00.4
Fouls Per Game0.91.0
   

While Suso does play a live-by-the-sword, die-by-the sword brand of football, his loan spell at Almeria showed that he does belong at this level. 

He is a more cost-effective option than Lallana, whose £20 million valuation, per James Pearce at the Liverpool Echo, is grossly inflated. 

Rodgers should consider giving Suso a chance at Liverpool next season. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com.

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