This installment of our “Rising Talent” series comes from Alex Maynard, an International Relations student at the University of Sussex. He has a great interest in the game at youth level and it is The Youth Radar’s pleasure to welcome him to the site. You can follow him on Twitter here.
The Liverpool Academy is one of the best academies that England has to offer. This position was cemented when it became one of only 4 English Academies to be invited to participate in the NextGen Series, a competition of the foremost Academies within Europe. Past players to advance from the Academy in recent years include talents such as Martin Kelly and Jon Flanagan, whilst in the not too distant past, players such as Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Steven Gerrard have all be youngsters at the club.
The current boss of the reserves, Rodolfo Borrell is the man behind great players such as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique. In a role that gave him oversight over all years of development at the Barcelona Academy, he brought players such as these through the system.
Arguably, such pedigree will stand the Liverpool Academy graduates a head start, once they join the reserves. One player tipped for stardom is Spanish sensation Jesus Fernandez Saez, or simply Suso. He plays naturally as a left midfielder, although looks at home anywhere within a midfield. He is a quick player, with excellent ball control and may be the best long passer Liverpool have seen since the departure of Xabi Alonso.
At a young 18 years old, he has incredible vision and is able of quick, accurate interplay around the box, or pinging a long pass from inside his own half to launch an attack. He has an uncanny ability to find players in space on the wings, something that the Liverpool first team lack.
Liverpool signed Suso at the age of 15 from his local team, Cadiz, before he even began training with the Cadiz first team. They faced competition from the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid to sign the youngster. Asked about Suso, his former coach said “He is dedicated and intelligent. He is well-grounded. He focuses on his education, is a good team-mate who is also well-disciplined and good mannered.” The coach also draws a comparison between Suso and Guti, a Real Madrid legend, although personally, I believe his interplay resembles that of David Silva, whilst his vision and long passing could soon rival that of Anfield favourite Xabi Alonso.
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is still heavily involved with his former post in the academy, despite first team commitments and has taken a liking to the Spaniard. He recently watched Suso in training, before personally driving him to Liverpool’s first team training ground at Melwood to train with the first team. Dalglish then took him with the senior team on an away trip to Wolves. Suso made his senior team debut at the age of 16 in a pre-season game against Borussia Monchengladbach and had his first taste of playing at Anfield in the second half of Jamie Carragher’s testimonial.
This season he has been a regular player in the reserve side. He has played in 13 of their 17 games including playing the full 90 in 10 of those games. The reserves were tested to their full in their most recent game against an Everton side who fielded the likes of Leon Osman, Jack Rodwell, Phil Jagielka and James McFadden. Although the game finished in a goalless draw, Suso and his teammates matched Everton in class, leading their reserve keeper Jan Mucha to make many inspired saves. Amongst other bright talents such as Connor Coady and Raheem Sterling, Suso is one of the players tipped to become Liverpool’s next big thing.