18+ | Commercial Content | T&Cs apply | Begambleaware.org
Reports suggest Mauricio Pochettino is looking to piece together a squad capable of competing in the Champions League for a second successive campaign. The recruitment team at Spurs have identified the 23-year-old attacking midfielder as a potential back-up option if they are unable to land Everton's Ross Barkley.
READ MORE: WHAT IMPACT WOULD ROSS BARKLEY HAVE ON DELE ALLI?
It’s a move which would see the former Liverpool player once again plying his trade in the Premier League. He made 14 league appearances for the Reds during the 2012-13 season having joined the Merseyside outfit from Spanish side Cádiz in 2010.
The Spaniard spent the entirety of the 2013-14 season on loan with La Liga side Almería, with then-Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers wanting to expose him to first-team football. He made over 30 appearances for the Spanish club and scored three goals.
However, upon his return it was clear Suso wasn't part of the plans at Anfield and made just one appearance, in the League Cup, before a January move to Milan. The Serie A side paid a reported €1.5million to Liverpool in compensation for the player ending his contract six months prematurely.
Suso was used sporadically by Milan head coach Siniša Mihajlović, who accused him of lacking confidence, and in January 2016 he was loaned to Genoa for six months. The consistent first-team football did the Spaniard the world of good and he returned to the Italian capital having scored six goals in 19 matches.
Ahead of this season, new Milan manager Vincenzo Montella wanted to shake things up and adopted a more youthful approach to his team selection. Suso, along with M'Baye Niang (now on loan at Watford) played either side of Carlos Bacca in Montella's new-look system.
READ MORE: A TACTICAL LOOK AT VINCENZO MONTELLA'S MILAN
The versatile forward, capable of playing anywhere behind the striker as well as in a deeper role, thrived under the added responsibility that the former Fiorentina coach afforded him.
As the Rossoneri headed into the winter break, Suso had six assists and five goals in 16 Serie A starts. He even enjoyed a spell in November which saw him score four and assist a further three in just three games — one of which was the Milan derby.
Suso etched himself into folklore by netting two goals in a 2-2 draw against their Milanese neighbours.
He's struggled to sustain his early season form and since the turn of the year he's been directly involved in just two goals — one assist against Udinese and one goal versus Lazio.
Despite his inconsistent form the owners of Milan are keen to tie him down to a new contract. His existing deal, which sees him take home a reported £18,000 per week, expires in the summer of 2019; Spurs could comfortably treble that salary.
What would Suso offer this Spurs side?
The easy answer here would be balance.
Pochettino's men have missed having a left footer in their attack with Erik Lamela being out injured. Even though Christian Eriksen has thrived playing on the right at times this campaign, the Dane could be even more devastating cutting in from the left. This would then free up both flanks for Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, the marauding full-backs who are arguably the best pairing in the league.
READ MORE: WHY UNDERRATED ERIKSEN IS ONE OF THE BEST IN EUROPE
As previously mentioned, the Cádiz native has six goals and seven assists in Serie A — his most productive season to date. When compared to the likes of Harry Kane (23), Dele Alli (17) and Eriksen (16) he's not too far behind.
However, it is worth noting that this isn't a free-scoring Milan side by any means, averaging just the 1.44 goals per game and eight teams have scored more than their 42. It means Suso has had a hand in just over 30 per cent of the team's goals.
His use of the ball is what really makes him stand out, though, averaging 33.9 passes and has a 79.8 per cent success rate per 90 minutes. He's been the playmaker of the Milan side so risky passes are a necessity and this impacts his pass success rate. The fact it's not higher shouldn't be used as a stick to beat him with.
Suso is capable of playing defence-splitting passes (as shown in the picture below).
He drifts into a central area, picks the ball up and turns so he's facing the opposition's goal. He doesn't try to beat his man or drive into space like some would, but instead just threads a ball through into the space behind the full-back for the overlapping Ignazio Abate.
The ex-Liverpool man is aware enough to make the most of the fact the left centre-back had pushed on to press Bacca and left a gaping hole in the defensive line.
In the picture above you get to see Suso's vision. Torino have all of their outfield players behind the ball and are fairly narrow. It all looks a little congested in the central area. The former Spain under-21 international picks the ball up and quickly switches the play to Matteo De Sciglio.
It's a pass so precise that it stretches the opposition and they go from looking fairly comfortably to scrambling back to prevent a chance (shown in the second picture). It's this sort of pass which could come in handy in the Premier League against teams who like to keep players behind the ball.
- Intelligent movement
Here Suso has drifted infield from his wide-right role to receive a pass from the deepest midfielder. The Empoli man, who starts central, is forced to vacate his position in an attempt to rush the Milan attacker into making a mistake.
The space is highlighted by the white circle. The Milan No.8 plays a pass to his teammate, who has time on the ball due to the opening Suso's initial movement created.
It's taking him away from goal but it's selfless from the midfield maestro; simple, yet effective.
The ball is then played into the feet of the Milan forward, Gianluca Lapadula. You see Suso (circled in white) driving into the space ahead of the opposition's defence — it's an area usually shielded by the man circled in blue, but he's out of position due to pressing Suso originally.
He then takes up a position in the penalty area to tuck away the pull-back to put his side ahead. When looking at a players goal record, it's worth looking at the sort of goals they score to see whether they are easily transferable; you can't bank on a player scoring 40-yard worldies every other week as it's simply not sustainable, but arriving late into the box to finish off a move? Definitely.
- Ability to create something out of nothing
Suso only really needs half a yard. If he manages to get that ball onto his wand of a left foot then you're in danger. Here, he receives the ball just in front of the Lazio defence.
They react quickly and look to crowd him out but he slaloms through, evades pressure from either side and curls the ball home before the defender ahead of him can even react.
Suso genuinely could be something special under a manager like Pochettino. By putting him in a side with talented players you'd be setting him up to fulfil his potential — he could be a destructive force in the Premier League.
If Suso is a genuine target, and the reported fee of £22million is accurate, then he could turn out to be yet another shrewd Daniel Levy signing.