Coming into the season, some thought Suso, with his quick thinking and creative passing, might have a part to play in Liverpool's first team, but that was swiftly ruled out, with the lad going on loan for the season to La Liga side Almería. With nearly half the season gone by, and with La Liga on its two-week winter break, Suso seized the opportunity to return to Melwood to catch up with Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool.
"I wanted to go on loan because I wanted to play, but I also wanted to show the boss and everyone that I can play in this team and play for Liverpool," said the young Spanish hot-shot. "I know it is one of the biggest clubs in the world and I want to play here; for me, the most important thing is playing in this team." At this stage, confirmation of Suso's desire to return to Liverpool in the summer and fight for his place is certainly music to our collective ears.
So how has he been getting on in Spain? Suso, who turned 20 in November, has started 14 of Almería's 17 matches, chipping in with 2 goals and 5 assists. For comparison's sake, in the season David Silva turned 20, he started 31 matches for a very good Valencia side, scoring 4 goals and providing 5 assists. What makes Suso's numbers interesting is that Almería as a whole has only scored 17 goals thus far in the league. Suso's 5 assists, as a percentage of his team's goals (29%), is eclipsed in La Liga only by the superb Koke, whose 8 assists represent 31% of Atlético Madrid's goal tally.
More qualitatively, Suso has had the opportunity to serve as the main creative threat for an admittedly weak side mired in a relegation battle. Almeria comes into the break just one point above the drop zone. With fixtures against Barcelona, Madrids Real and Atlético alike, and other quality sides, it is a tremendous development opportunity for the young lad certainly unrivaled by anything Liverpool could have offered him in England this year. Suso's is a shining example of how loans ought to be conducted, and stands in contrast to the majority of other youth loans Liverpool has attempted thus far in 2013.
Worries about the defensive quality and workrate of Suso's game haven't entirely gone away during his time in Spain. In fact, in the most recent few matches he's seen his playing time diminish ever so slightly, though two of those matches were in Copa Del Rey matches and were likely the result of rotation. Nevertheless, now is a great time both for a break and for Rodgers to whisper some words of confidence and focus in Suso's ear. "You always feel happy when you know they are watching you and call you to come back here and have a chat about what you're doing in Spain. It's really nice," Suso agreed.
At just 20 years old, a key player for Almeria and the Spainish National Under-21 side, and—far more crucially—with tattoos galore and hair for the ages, Suso appears to have a bright future for both Liverpool and Spain. This little visit home can only serve to positively refocus his determination to succeed in Spain and hopefully see him finish strong in the second half of the season.