BLOG ITALIA
Friday August 16 2019
Sourcing the Suso solution

Suso’s strengths and weaknesses as a winger could be just as crucial in a trequartista role for Milan, writes Elio Salerno.

Jesús Joaquín Fernández Sáenz de la Torre is a player who at times is as puzzling and dazzling as his flamboyant Spanish name. The attacker who we have all come to know simply as ‘Suso’ generates substantial debate between Milan fans.

Undoubtedly talented with a special left foot, the former Liverpool player is frustratingly inconsistent. In amongst his creative moments of magic, Suso is accused of being a peripheral figure in more games than a player with his quality should be.

Despite contributing seven goals and nine assists last season, there was a feeling that in those cagey games where Milan needed a hero or something extraordinary to claim a crucial win, Suso was absent. As the man that many look toward for inspiration on those occasions, the Rossonero Number 8 would often leave onlookers disappointed. Not all of Milan’s deficiencies last term can be laid at the feet of Suso. Gennaro Gattuso’s team were somewhat functional and underwhelming.

Whilst Suso’s attacking numbers were certainly credible, the majority came in a hot spell of form during the first part of last term, as 11 of his combined goals and assists arrived in the opening 11 rounds, with the other five coming in the second half of the campaign. Delve a little deeper and you will see that in the 12 games where Suso’s attacking interventions ended with the ball in the net, Il Diavolo only lost once, drawing twice and winning the other nine.

However, there is a counter argument here. None of Suso’s goals came against an opponent in the top eight and only three of his assists came against a rival in the same top eight positions. Now it may seem unfair to expect Suso to take down Serie A’s big guns, but out of Milan’s 11 draws last year, six were against teams in the bottom half of the table.

Suso has been a crucial figure for Milan, but he is as infuriating as he is impressive. Some of the 25-year-old’s limitations are his own, but some blame can be apportioned to how he has been deployed. It is somewhat of an understatement to say that Suso is heavily left footed and during his time in Italy he has predominantly been used as an inverted right winger.

To play that role, you need variety or isolated exceptional qualities like Arjen Robben. Suso has potential to have both. However, located on that side of the pitch makes him predictable, you know what is coming. A cut inside onto his left foot followed by a deep cross or shot and as we have seen, they come with varying success. Intelligent defensive units have shown that Suso is easy locked out of the game, so would a move away from the touchline be beneficial for him?

It is well known that new Milan boss Marco Giampaolo favours a 4-3-1-2 formation and you do not have to be an elite Coach to realise that is a system without stereotypical wide players. As a result, speculation has been rife that Milan are ready to cash in on Suso, but it appears Giampaolo has different ideas, using him as a trequartista in pre-season.

This change raises immediate questions. Primarily, is Suso capable? And is he a better option than exciting Brazilian Lucas Paqueta as a Number 10? The constant connection to play will be instantly beneficial for Suso and technically there is no doubt that the Spanish international has that attributes needed. His agility and low centre of gravity combined with his close control, dribbling ability and range of passing/shooting makes him a dangerous prospect in central areas.

It would open up the game for a new creative Suso. This blend of attributes would allow him to eliminate opponents in a number of ways, exposing defences and create the numerical superiority that his Coach demands in the final third.

Positioning, tactical discipline and energy are vital in Giampaolo’s teams. Wide areas provide Suso with time and space, something he would receive less of centrally, and it is here where we perhaps start to find a few sticking points. A prerequisite for a Giampaolo playmaker is intensity and work rate. Can Suso cope with the physical and mental demands of the game as Milan’s trequartista?

Perhaps the biggest doubt over Suso in this role is physically. Out of possession he must sacrifice himself and press intensely, whilst also being prepared to retreat and form part of a compact defensive midfield diamond. Dynamic movements are necessary, decisions are required to be made quickly and executed with precision under pressure. Slowing the game down is not an option, so persistently chopping the ball across onto his left foot would not be favourable.

Suso must still pass the test, but signs so far have been promising. The Cadiz-born player is proving competent and has surprised in a positive way. The Rossoneri now have a recipe for success. The emphasis will be placed on the team working in sync to get the best out of the group and the individuals within it.

In Giampaolo, Milan have the ideal man to help evolve skilful Suso and bring the best out of him on a consistent basis.

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Have your say...
@AC Milan Fan
Thank you. My next problem is then our bench in that department, Borini and Samu are all we have to bring on up front (assuming Silva gets sold for Correa). This is deeply concerning when we are chasing a game or if there are injuries.
Hakan will be needed as midfield depth so I think we will keep him. Suso will leave next season if he sits on the bench behind Correa for an amount significantly lower than his current value. All in all its a HUGE risk if we miss out on 4th yet again
on the 21st August, 2019 at 5:47pm
Mirko, Leao will play even if we sign Correa. Leao will be the second striker and Correa will be trequartista. This means Suso will probably drop to the bench. I think it would also mean that either he or Calhanoglu will be sold.
on the 21st August, 2019 at 1:36pm
@ Mirko
Take it from the other side. Club kept all of previous starting 11. We just said goodbye to dead weight and Cutrone, who scored just a few goals all along season. So, all new signings are just reinforcement of the squad. It`s not revolution, it`s evolution.
on the 21st August, 2019 at 8:05am
Where will Correa fit in if he finally does arrive? If he will be one of the two up front then did we just sign a 35m benchwarmer in Leao? When we had Cutrone for free already?
3 left backs on the books yet we signed a 4th before offloading any of the others?
This is what I mean about an unnecessary overhaul. Bennacer at least replaces Bakayoko which was a necessary transfer. Krunic adds depth in the middle which we will need - I can accept that move. Others seem completely pointless.
on the 20th August, 2019 at 1:35pm
Hes no world beater but so is nobody. nobody in our squad. And noones been world class for a decade. But we'd have had a core. A core of decent players, where we could have added quality around. The chop shop just looks to be ever open. its difficult to get optimistic about.
on the 19th August, 2019 at 2:33pm
similar to what we have had every single year up to now. its a difficult club to support. People saying we played boring football last year. I can not remember staying awake without problems for an entire match since Allegri left, and he was also defensive. The core of the team is quite rotten. Problem is when you start selling the once showing grit and passion. Like locatelli and cutrone. Give the team some homegrown goddamn fight. Cristante could have been a regular core member,
on the 19th August, 2019 at 2:31pm
we have overhauled our squad in every single season since 2012 or something. Its ALWAYS year zero. Its always been bull. Chinese owners and 11 new players was our first proper overhaul, but it was all flash and no substance. Disgusting leaving us with those owners berlu, i am sure did it to show us how good he was supposed to have been. This year, its atleast done right, a whole new set of staff, all the way to the top. New players, manager etc. Problem is. Selling cutrone it all just feels
on the 19th August, 2019 at 2:28pm
Suso: Cut in from the right, on to your left foot and have a random shot. Now repeat for 90mins and 10 months. No pace, no trickery, no aggression. One tick pony.
on the 19th August, 2019 at 12:03pm
We signed 11 new players merely 2 seasons ago and now we want a new batch of new players, it doesn't make any sense. Especially with Gattuso's pragmatic yet slow tactics hindering certain players we currently have, and which we all have no idea of their true potential with a more attacking coach. All I'd like to see is what can MG do with the current batch of players who are still good players. We haven't even given him the players he requested (Praet, the long list of others we were linked to)
on the 19th August, 2019 at 8:56am
@Milan Fan
They are BUILDING a squad at Inter, Icardi had to go so they got a replacement striker - not an overhaul move. Midfield has been bolstered - Vecino and Brozovic are staying and they added strength and depth there too. Defence was bolstered with Godin - but the core midfielders and defenders and even Lautaro were all there already, Conte is just filling in his gaps. That is using what they have and also working to improve it. Nothing wrong with that.
on the 19th August, 2019 at 8:52am
@AC Milan Fan
Maybe I am being too harsh on him, I just figured he wasn't deemed good enough to eventually replace the aging Marcelo as he will eventually need to be replaced sooner rather than later.
I also question the need for a new LB when we have 3 on the books already, with a new attack minded coach who even knows how good RR or Laxalt can be, or even Strinic if fully fit and who has worked with Giampaolo at Samp before. This is my main gripe about an overhaul.
on the 19th August, 2019 at 8:48am
@Mirka

It's seems like a overhaul to me what they're doing at Inter. Even more so than us. New coach, new formation, more new players than us and key players in key positions, too. While we just added youngsters or slight improvements. So what's your point? A new coach demands players suited to his style of football, it's the same all over the world mate.
on the 18th August, 2019 at 9:55pm
@Mirko, I will concede that Albiol and Higuain were established players at RM at some point, although Callejon less so. But Hernandez is 20 and playing behind Marcelo who has been at RM for 11 seasons and will probably go down as their best LB ever after Roberto Carlos, so it's tough for me to just write him off as a "reject". And then they were talkig about Ceballos and Isco, players I would have been more than happy to take, but even those rejects are still too good for Milan.
on the 18th August, 2019 at 9:06pm
You are getting mixed up between overhaul and improving. Inter Juve and Napoli haven’t overhauled their squads when they have missed out on Scudetto and CL the past 3 years, they have retained a core of the same players and slowly and surely have worked towards improving to reach their targets. Milan don’t need a new XI every year, we need a few targeted high quality signings to improve an already decent squad. Simple as that.
on the 18th August, 2019 at 12:32pm
You can "lol" all you want, Mirko, but we would still need an overhaul even if we had finished 3rd last season.
Same team like last season would be out of top 5 this upcoming season. Others are strenghtening + last season was abnormally bad for our direct competitors also. Our 5th position did not come because we were good. We were not for 2/3rds of the season. We were lucky everyone else were substandard as well, in my opinion.
on the 18th August, 2019 at 10:11am
AC Milan Fan : Yeah, there is something going on with the RB situation. Conti says he wants to stay, but then we shouldn`t be looking for a replacement, should we?
Perhaps even Calabria is feeling the pressure? I know we wanted Aurier a couple of years ago, but we should not need him now unless something is going on that we do not know about yet...
on the 18th August, 2019 at 9:07am
@AC Milan Fan
Those players you mentioned actually played many seasons at Madrid under elite coaches like Mourinho, certainly not rejects like Hernandez who lasted one season and only made a handful of appearances. Higuain even kept Benzema out of the XI for large periods - certainly not a reject.

And by your logic at half time of the final matchday we were sitting in 3rd place - so would we have needed this same overhaul of the squad you think is necessary if we came 3rd? Lol
on the 18th August, 2019 at 8:10am
What worries me is lack of goals in preseasons.
K. Piątek stats in Genoa under different coaches:
Ballardini:
9(/7)
Jurić:
1(/7)
Prandelli:
3(/6)
Is there anything wrong with Gattuso vs. Giampaolo tactics?
on the 18th August, 2019 at 7:27am
@Mirko, Real Madrid "rejects" are often better than most other playes anywhere else. Look at how well Callejon and Albiol did for Napoli after coming over. Oh, and we all know a certain Higuain. As for the "2x relegated players", Fiorentina went into the last day with the possibility of relegation. If that had been the case you would have rejected Chiesa? Lol. @A.R., totally agreed. On another note, why are we looking for RBs? I'm guessing Conti isn't panning out?
on the 17th August, 2019 at 9:04pm
A.R
But the overhaul currently underway is not even good quality! 2 x relegated players, a Madrid reject, and a completely unproven 20 year old who we overpaid for at the expense of Cutrone. Why aren’t we spending the money on better and proven players. And as much as I’d love to trust 2 legends of the club, they have minimal experience in this new role they have. I really can’t see us finishing in the top 4 this season yet again. It’s not negativity it’s being realistic.
on the 17th August, 2019 at 6:39pm
Continued: This overhaul is necessary if the new management is not going to be hampered by the mistakes and shortcomings of the previous managements.
Let Maldini, Boban and co. do what they feel have to be done in order to be competative. Trust them.
on the 17th August, 2019 at 5:14pm
Well, Maldini`s Heir, your comments are becoming increasingly irritating to read. I realise I could just ignore them, but sometimes it is hard to do so. Don`t get me wrong, I have often agreed with your opinions earlier, you clearly care about the club, it is just that the repeated negativity recently is hard to swallow.
Last season`s team was not good enough and keeping the team unchanged would have seen us drop out of top 5 this upcoming season. Plain and simple.
on the 17th August, 2019 at 5:09pm
@Maldini's heir

So you wouldn't change a team that made eyes bleed with their style of play (not sure if we had any)? Cause that's what happened in most of our matches last season.
on the 17th August, 2019 at 4:39pm
@ A.R. Oh please I am commenting on a footballing blog not managing a football team. If I was managing Milan I wound't have completely overhauled a side that finished 1 point off the Champions League last season. If you're going to overhaul a side then it better be worth it. So far this decade it has never been worth it. And the sale of Cutrone is symptomatic of why Milan have struggled for so long, it's not a one off.
on the 17th August, 2019 at 2:16pm
@Maldini's Heir

Forza Wolves! Glad you are finally using your brain and leaving this TRASH behind. Bravo! LOL
on the 17th August, 2019 at 11:59am
Judgement of the coming season by whether it will be "a brilliant success" or a total failure: That is hyperbole and hardly serves any purpose other than to divide.
Considering the club`s situation I think it is fair to say that progress could be many things inbetween those two alternatives.
I am quite sure, though, that either way it will definetly not be as a result of the sale of Cutrone...
on the 17th August, 2019 at 11:22am
I think we have a 'new' maldini heir or a name change!!!
on the 17th August, 2019 at 8:01am
I think I’ve run out of words for Milan. Either me and others are right and it’ll be another disappointing season followed by another overhaul. Or we’re wrong and it will be a brilliant success. If it’s the former, what more can we say? If it’s the latter we should probably shut up. In the meantime Forza Wolves!
on the 17th August, 2019 at 5:16am
(Cont'd) but they just had to keep on going. So enter Ibra, Dinho, Robinho, etc., all great players, but not the right ones for Milan at that moment. And thus from 2007-17, maybe 2009-17 all they're doing is building debt. They should have gone with their academy. Gone with the modern self-sufficient model of football. Focused on building a stadium then, not the last minute failed Berlusconi reactionary bid to build a ground at Portello in 2015. Then came the sale to a bum. The rest you know.
on the 16th August, 2019 at 7:43pm
(Cont'd). The major problem is getting stuck in the quicksand of expensive free agents/has beens to begin with. I put the blame squarely on Berlusconi for this. It was obvious that putting the 2002-2013 squads together took a lot of money. After that it was all those random expensive free agents. Even before that kind of, with Ibra for example. They just couldn't keep him past 2 years. The sale of Sheva TBH was the first sign. I think the renewal should have happened after the 2007 CL win...
on the 16th August, 2019 at 7:39pm

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