Key Track: Touch - Daft Punk
It's an enduring testament to Rafa Benitez that his efforts in overhauling Liverpool's academy may in fact overshadow Istanbul as his defining achievement with the club. In an era dominated by sugar-daddy owners and mega-marketing deals, Liverpool's revamped youth system looks to be a huge factor in the club's ability to compete with the heavyweights. Alongside the likes of Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom, and Jordan Ibe, Suso is amongst the first crop of homegrown youngsters to make an impact at senior level.
After the summer transfer window left the club bereft of any depth in attack, injury to Fabio Borini and incompetence by Stewart Downing forced Brendan Rodgers to look for creative ways to supplement Luis Suarez in attack. With the manager steadfast in his belief of giving playing time to those worthy, Suso managed to breakthrough into the first team picture.
Despite being played out of position on the right wing, the young Spaniard showed plenty of promise as he vacillated between 60-minute starter and impact substitute for the first half of the season. In matches against Reading and Norwich (a particularly great demonstration of his potential), Suso displayed tremendous vision as well as a feathery first touch that hasn't been seen around these parts in quite some time. Though he returned to the reserve and youth teams after the arrivals of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho in January, Suso's extended exposure to first team competition can only make the season an unqualified success on an individual level.
The learning process was only furthered this summer as he captained Spain's U-20 World Cup squad from his more natural position in the center of midfield. Despite Liverpool's recent loan history has seen the offloading of undesired players (Alberto Aquilani we hardly knew ye), Suso's temporary move back to his native Spain with Almeria seems to have genuinely been constructed with his Anfield future in mind. Rodgers and supporters alike will be keenly following Suso's development, and further exposure to first team football will surely see the young schemer grow by leaps and bounds.
Season Rating: 6
He showed flashes of potential in almost every appearance, though failed to have a serious impact in more than a few. Certainly, this is no indictment of an 18 year old prospect being played out position and the ensuing loan move to Almeria looks, at first glance, to be a great move for all parties involved. I have a feeling we'll have a lot more to say when the 2014/2015 season review comes along.