AGAINST a fairly strong Udinese side on Thursday night, the Reds put in perhaps their most assured display of the season. That’s not to say it was their best performance, but the team looked confident and comfortable throughout and looked like another goal was just around the corner.
It was an enjoyable game to watch and, for me, the most promising aspect was the performance of our young Spaniard, Suso. His passing was strong, his availability was constant and he chipped in with his first assist of the campaign to cap off his best display yet.
At just gone 19, he is a very promising prospect and brings to the table a lot of attributes that Liverpool have missed for a number of years. However, not too much should be expected of him just yet, as he needs to really mature into his game, and should be given the same time afforded to other youngsters.
So, given all the fuss being made of Sterling this season, the likes of Suso, Wisdom and Shelvey have gone largely unnoticed outside of the clubs’ own fan-base but, in my opinion, I believe that Suso is a more promising player than Sterling.
That isn’t to say that he’s better; that’s not what I’m saying. I simply believe that his worth to the club could be a lot more over the next 5+ years than Sterling’s.
For me, Sterling’s strength lies in his speed, dribbling and pace. He’ll more often than not have the beating of most full-backs and (having only just turned 18), he’ll likely not hit his top speed for another couple of years. He’s a very unpredictable player also, perhaps not quite to the same extent (or effect) as a Luis Suarez or Lionel Messi, but he gives defenders nightmares when he’s got the ball at his feet and is running toward them at full pelt.
Like Raheem, Suso is a very composed player, having yet to look at all flustered by the first-team action at a tender age but he’s also a much more mature player. What we’ve seen from Sterling so far is a young lad coming into every game and playing with the abandon of youth; everything is possible, but we’ve also seen this from other, similar young players such as Walcott, Lennon, Johnson and many others with similar skills and that initial burst of speed and creativity doesn’t quite pan out the way it should have.
However, Suso is growing into his role as a creative, intelligent midfielder, with great vision and a sixth-sense like ability to know where his team-mates are going to be. A quick glance across at his homeland and you’ll see that there are a few similar players to him which have become the lynch-pins of their respective teams.
But, for me, it is the likes of Iniesta and Xavi that come to influence games more and that is why, despite being in a team ripe with attacking talent, both of the Spanish maestros pretty much always comes in the top 3 when the world’s best player awards are handed out. You can’t deny the talent it requires to create and score tons of goals but without players like Xavi and Iniesta, they would never be possible.
It’s a stretch right now to compare such a young, burgeoning talent to such esteemed countrymen, but he has all of the potential required to reach these heights; the club just needs to nurture him properly to ensure he does. Neither Iniesta or Xavi were first-team regulars before the age of 22, so he – nor us – should be too disheartened if he doesn’t even get off the bench every week.
So, while Sterling catches the eye far more at the moment now, with his pacey running and highly-charged approach to every game, he has still only contributed 1 goal and 2 assists in 25 games this season – which is what makes those reported requests for upwards of £40k a week a bit too much to believe in.
And while Suso has played a good 10 games less, he has still only contributed a single assist and he only managed that against Udinese on Thursday night. But both are very promising young players and Reds the world over should be delighted to have both at the club and seeing regular action. In my opinion, though, we should be more excited by the prospect of what Suso may well become.
Which of these two youngsters do you believe has a brighter future at Liverpool Football Club?