The first few months of Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool tenure could have very well proved fatal; the summer transfer window was largely considered a bust, they didn't win a match until September 29th, and the previous season's League Cup trophy meant Rodgers would have to navigate the Europa League along with a challenging early-season slate in league with an under-strength squad.
That meant turning to a number of players from the reserves and youth setup, with Samed Yesil, Jerome Sinclair, Andre Wisdom, Suso, and Raheem Sterling all making appearances in the fall. The latter trio appeared most often, and while Wisdom was solid in his own right, it was Suso and Sterling who drew most of the attention. Both flashed regular glimpses of promise going forward, and while neither lasted the season in the senior squad, there appeared to be plenty to look forward to.
Sterling delivered after breaking through for a second time in December of 2013, but Suso's road has taken a few detours, including a loan to Almeria and another planned (temporary) move away this summer falling through at the last minute. Now fighting to work his way in to the first team again, Suso reflects on the promise of his young teammate, noting that it only seemed a matter of time before Raheem Sterling came of age:
"I remember the first year I came when I was at the Academy in the reserve team. He was in the U18s team and he played some really good games. Obviously he was really young at just 16 but you could see he had the quality to be a good player. Now he is in the first team you can see he has improved a lot and he is still improving and every time you see him play, he is normally the best player on the pitch.
"He was man of the match for England against Norway and it's really nice to see how he has grown playing alongside him. He is a really nice lad as well because he always listens to you every time you talk with him and if has to learn something he learns it. He is a fantastic boy to be honest. I think when you train with good players you have the perfect atmosphere to become a good player and improve."
Admiration, surely, but it also has to be somewhat bittersweet for the Spanish midfielder, who hasn't been able to work his way back into Rodgers' plans just yet. It seems a difficult task at this point; Liverpool have improved markedly since the early days of Rodgers' tenure, and are now arguably deepest in the positions Suso would ostensibly occupy. No questioning the 20-year-old's quality, but he's now looking up not only at the players that the club have brought in since the fall of 2012, but the man he so effusively praises here.