Spanish teenager Suso hit the headlines last season when he was introduced into the first team by current boss Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers had no other choice and the attacking midfielder showed glimpses of what he was capable of before eventually dropping back down into the Development Squad.
The signing of Philippe Coutinho last January meant it was always going to be extremely difficult for Suso to get back into the first team in his natural position, on the left hand side of Liverpool’s midfield in an advanced role.
It seemed a no brainer for him to go out on loan this season and as far as Liverpool are concerned, it’s a decision which has paid off because he’s been one of Almeria’s best players in La Liga.
So how does he shape up against the Brazilian who will be ahead of him in the pecking order when he returns to Anfield next summer?
Suso has started eight matches for Almeria this season compared to Coutinho’s four starts for Liverpool.
Coutinho would have undoubtedly started more were it not for the shoulder injury he picked up during the match away at Swansea City but in terms of effect, it shows that Suso has been playing consistently.
Coutinho is slightly ahead in terms of passing success with an average of 78.5% from league matches this season compared to the 76.2% figure Suso is currently boasting.
Coutinho is also ahead in terms of key passes per game and number of passes per game but Suso is way out in front in terms of long balls with 1.6 per match compared to 0.8.
That doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know and is muted by the fact Liverpool are not a long ball team.
In terms of defensive stats, there isn’t really anything between them with Coutinho making 0.5 more tackles per game and giving away a slightly smaller percentage in terms of fouls.
However, Suso is showing a good ability to read the game and is registering 0.6 interceptions per match while Coutinho is yet to make a single interception this season.
Suso is more effective when players square up to him and dribble at him, with just 1.4 dribbles beating him compared to two per game with Coutinho.
The interesting stats come in terms of attacking play this season with Suso ahead of Coutinho in several areas. However, you have to take the numbers with a pinch of salt as he’s played twice the number of games.
Suso has a goal and three assists from his appearances this season while Coutinho is yet to register in either column. He’s also making more dribbles at the opposition defence and is dispossessed fewer times on average.
Where Coutinho is ahead in terms of attacking play is with passing and his ability to draw fouls. Coutinho is drawing twice as many fouls in the opponent’s final third, which allows influential players like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez to take advantage of dead ball situations.
Coutinho also seems to be a far more disciplined player than the Spaniard who has already been booked four times this season.
Brendan Rodgers has admitted he still doesn’t think the current Liverpool squad is large enough, which means he’s not going to look favourably at players who show a tendency to be a bit reckless, subsequently getting themselves suspended.
Coutinho hasn’t been booked yet this season, which means he’s reliable and it’s also a tribute to his decision making.
Can you see Suso playing a big part in Liverpool’s future?
image: © Dean Jones