Liverpool’s poor start to the season has certainly provided us with more questions than answers.
Should Steven Gerrard be starting as often as he has?
Should Rodgers sign a goalkeeper to challenge Simon Mignolet for the number one spot?
Is Mario Balotelli the right man to replace the goals missing from the sale of Luis Suarez?
What is the matter with Philippe Coutinho?
And why, has young Spanish playmaker Suso been restricted to a 23 minute cameo in the Capital One Cup so far this season?
The case of the 20-year-old has been a strange one. Liverpool fans have been intrigued as to why the talented forward has not been given more of an opportunity this season, questions that intensified when he came off the bench to fire his first senior goal for the club in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.
And when you consider Liverpool’s struggles in front of goal so far this season, and Suso’s form over the past 12 months, his lack of game time is starting to look like a misjudgment on Brendan Rodgers part.
Upon the Northern Irishman’s arrival in the summer of 2012, Suso found himself introduced to first team action around the same time as Raheem Sterling.
Introduced as a half time substitute in the home clash with Manchester United in September 2012, the Spaniard immediately caught the eye with his balance, vision, skill and football brain.
In such a high profile fixture, a then 18-year-old Suso looked calm as you like – and became a regular fixture in Rodgers side afterwards for the first half of the season.
Suso had made 18 first team appearances for the Reds by January, regularly starting alongside Sterling and Luis Suarez in a front three.
But he managed just three more appearances after the turn of the year, after Rodgers spent a combined total of £20million on Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge.
Never-the-less, it had still been a successful introduction to life at Anfield during the 2012-13 season, and many agreed a season out on loan was best for everyone in the summer that followed.
Suso spent last season back in Spain, where he was a regular in La Liga with Almeria, playing 27 matches, scoring three goals and providing seven assists – one more incidentally than Philippe Coutinho managed for Liverpool last season.
When you consider Rodgers spent £6million on another Spaniard in the form of Luis Alberto – who managed no goals and just one assist last season before being loaned back to his homeland – you could argue Rodgers made a mistake in not keeping Suso around last season.
Reports suggest a deal is already in place for Suso to transfer to AC Milan when his contract expires in less than 12 months, but after a goal-scoring cameo in midweek, you have to wonder if this is the right decision?
Brendan Rodgers has a host of attacking midfield options to choose from, when you consider he spent a combined total of £56million on Markovic, Lallana and Emre Can in the summer.
Raheem Sterling is unlikely to make way with the form he is in, but surely Suso should be challenging the others for that role either as a number 10, or wide in a front three?
Coutinho is struggling for both form and fitness so far this season, with his chance creation rate per match down from two to one, his dribble success rate down from 58% to 30%, and his shots per game down from 2.8 to 2.3.
And with Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic having both missed stages of the season with injury as well as struggling to make an instant impact, Suso must be wondering what he has to do to get an opportunity to shine at Anfield.
For a player who started his Liverpool career so brightly, he has done all the right things since being taken out of the fire by Rodgers at the start of 2013.
He went on loan and enjoyed a successful spell in Spain, came back to Anfield and stated his desire to show what he can do, and has delivered in pre-season and when called upon for the first time on Tuesday evening.
His goal and link up play almost won the game after extra time, before Sterling and Kolo Toure gifted Boro’ a cheap penalty late on.
And for someone so young, the 20-year-old showed nerves of steel to bury not one, but two perfectly placed penalties in front of the Kop as the Reds edged through a dramatic shootout.
Suso said after the game he hoped his impact would bring about more chances – chances many supporters believe are fully deserved.
And if Brendan Rodgers pre-match press conference is anything to go by, that chance may just come in one of the biggest fixtures of the season – Saturday’s derby clash with Everton at Anfield.
“Young Suso was a player that when I first came in, he played quite a bit,” the boss said. “He’s already experienced the derby in that first season away at Goodison and we’ve seen his impact from the other night.
“I was really pleased for him, because it’s been difficult for him. We sent him out on loan to try and get games and experience.
“He has come in, put his head down over the course of pre-season and worked hard.
“He hasn’t had a lot of game time and that’s probably been difficult for him, but he’s never shown it.
“He has got the same appetite in training. You saw his quality when he came on in the game, when the space opened up and even when it was tight, he had wonderful feet and wonderful technique.
“It was nice to see him score off his right foot and he’s definitely one that comes into the reckoning.”
With Liverpool having lost three of their opening five Premier League games, something clearly needs to change.
Brendan may well have made a mistake with the lack of game time given to Suso, not just during the opening seven matches of the season, but with last campaign also – I would have backed him to have made more of an impact than Luis Alberto given his stats for Almeria last term.
His lack of first team opportunities is especially strange when you consider how the boss has given so many young players opportunities in the past.
But the beauty of it being so early in the season, is that Brendan can identify any mistakes early on and rectify them.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the forgotten man who Liverpool had to battle both Real Madrid and Barcelona to sign, started to show us more of what he can do during Saturday’s Merseyside derby?
Would you start Suso for Saturday’s derby clash with Everton? Does he have a future at Anfield? Let us know your thoughts below.
brendan rogers, i personally trust in your judgement many a time n must confess that although things look to be a little bit tough you are still on course. But the issue of not allowing young suso who has the attribute of becoming the next ronaldo to have a playing time is a strong menace on the side of the team. It is true there are other first team players who are equally doing well, but young suso qualifies to fit into the shoes of ex maestro luis suarez. Try him again this week and i believe he will do well. thank you very much.(isaiah)
Brendan I hope u read this, you better play suso regularly. He is better than young sterling even though he lacks pace. He is our best attacking midfielder and can score with both feet. no wonder real and Barcelona wanted him
Suso is far better than Raheem Sterling since is not a blight the British will not hype him the way they hype their average player on the tabloid. give Suso playing time let see what he can offer. raheem should learn how to control the ball
stick him in. He cant be any worse than (the plank)