Suso, 19, attacking midfielder, Almeria (on loan from Liverpool) and Spain
When you’re a young boy and coming through the ranks of a relatively small club in your home country and the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid come in for you, it’s damn near impossible to turn them down. But in this case, this is what one player had done, rejecting both clubs to move abroad at the age of just 16, to join the Liverpool academy on loan.
Jesús Joaquín Fernández Sáez de la Torre or better known as Suso decided at a very young age to ditch the two biggest clubs in his country after a chat with then Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez. Suso said about the move, “I was going to sign for Real Madrid but one day before it the phone rang and Rafael Benitez spoke to me. He convinced me that Liverpool was the club for me and after that I had to change my plans. I was going to come to Liverpool.”
So in 2010, Suso had decided to join Liverpool from Cadiz. Initially he had to join them on loan as he was not yet old enough to join them on a full professional contract, he had to wait to obtain a permit. After joining the club he played for the first team in a friendly against German side, Borussia Mönchengladbach but was then placed in the Liverpool academy to grow up and get used to his new surroundings, on his 17th birthday he sat down and his a professional contract with the club, but didn’t get promoted to the senior team, it was still a little early.
Over the next two season’s young Suso performed very well in the Liverpool academy, in the two season’s he spent here he played in over 40 games for the youth side, netting just under double figures in goals.
Come the end of the second season in the youth set-up he went on International duty with Spain’s U-19 squad to play in the finals in Estonia. Through-out the tournament Suso featured heavily, helping his team-mates go undefeated in the tournament and lifting the 2012 European Championships beating Greece 1-0 in the final.
Upon his return to Liverpool, he was in for a bit of a surprise, new manager Brendan Rodgers had included him in the pre-season senior squad that would travel to USA and Canada. He impressed whilst away on pre-season and was rewarded with a place in the senior squad for the 2012/13 season.
In the first half of the new season he made his debut in the Europa League, the Premier League and also made his first senior start with Liverpool. In each of those games, he played a big part. After his debut in the Europa League, his manager Rodgers had nothing but good things to say. Then he stepped into a war zone when he was handed his first premier league appearance against Manchester United. He did very well in the game, despite the side being down to 10 men and losing the game 2-1. He continued in good form through-out the first half of the season and was rewarded for his impressive start, signing a long-term contract with the club that would keep him there until 2017.
He ended the season featuring in 20 games for the club, and had found an admirer in his new manager, Brendan Rodgers, who had nothing but plaudits for the young Spaniard.
After the season had finished, there was little to no rest for Suso who had to then jump on a plane with his U-20’s team-mates to compete in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup finals that was being held in Turkey. He played in every game, even captaining the side in the second match against Ghana. Suso and his team-mates wouldn’t come away victorious as they were put out in the quarter-finals against Uruguay.
The season was over, the World Cup was over. Suso looking at the Liverpool team for the 2013/14 season had seen the squad improve, with the signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho during the 12/13 season as well as the additions of Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and more in the summer transfer window, he knew it was time to find regular first team football elsewhere, and where better than his home country and in La Liga with newly promoted Almeria.
Suso is a player that’s easy on the eye, he’s still young and has a lot to learn, but will only get better with experience. His eye for a pass is second to none, his vision and reading of the game already for his age is wonderful. His speed and skill is key and also he’s very mature and confident, but not cocky for his age (A quality in players nowadays).
Next season Suso will be playing in La Liga and as a watcher of the Spanish league, I’m very much looking forward to seeing him play, grow and develop his game in Spain. I think the move for all three parties is one that suits very, very well. He gets the game time he needs, in a place he’ll feel comfortable, he is only on a season long loan with no purchase option so will return to Liverpool with the experience of a season under his belt.
(Photo credit: @Suso30fernandez via Twitter)