Factions of the fan-base love him, while other factions loathe him. To some, he’s been the lone creative catalyst for AC Milan the past 3 seasons, while some blame his one-dimensional and predictable play as the reason why the Rossoneri’s progression during that period has been so moderate. Regardless of which side of the fence they sit, Milan fans have strong opinions on the diminutive, Cadiz born playmaker.
It would seem that fans have not been the only ones polarized on the player however, as many conflicting reports emerging throughout the summer hinted at both a stay for Suso as well as an exit. Some suggested that it was coach Marco Giampaolo’s idea to hold on to the Spaniard and convert him to trequartista, while others mentioned management’s intention to sell the player to raise funds for further reinforcements to the squad.
With the Italian transfer window closed however, it looks As if Suso will remain in the red and black of Milan, at least until January. What’s not assured though, is what position he would play with Coach Giampaolo switching from a 4-3-1-2 to a 4-3-2-1 after just one game and with him even threatening a return to 4-3-3. Suso could potentially spend time at either the trequartista, winger or even second striker positions. With that said it’s important to look at the ways in which Suso could be deployed, and which might be best in order to maximize his return on the field.
This seems to be the preferred position for Suso by Giampaolo. A position that, while not totally foreign to the player, is certainly not his most comfortable role. Vincenzo Montella first experimented with Suso in the trequartista in the first half of the 2017-2018 seasons, albeit to mixed results. Though Suso had some beautiful moments like his goal against Austria Wien in the 2017-2018 Europa League group stages, those moments were few and far between.
Giampaolo has most recently openly declared the trequartista spot as Suso’s to lose and though he’s shown good signs in preseason, he’s vacillated between great and downright non-existent displays, the first two games of the season. Suso clearly has the vision, ball skills, passing and dribbling ability to succeed in that role. However, what Suso struggles at times with is receiving the ball in between the midfield and defensive lines and playing with his back to the defense. Far too often, he’s hurried off the ball by defenders on his back. While Suso clearly has the skills to play the position, it may take time for him to adapt to picking up the ball with players on his six.
This has been Suso’s preferred position ever since he first moved to Milan from Liverpool FC. He’s perfectly suited to this position as his natural inclination to cut back onto his accurate left foot, allows him the double threat of either setting up a teammate or going for goal himself. Him playing on the right wing means he’s always facing his opponent with the ability to run directly at him, and requires less awareness than the trequartista position would.
Unfortunately for Suso, what limits him in this position is his lack of pace. He’s most times forced to cut back after beating his man, as the defender most times has enough pace to catch up to the diminutive wide man, which makes him extremely predictable especially seeing as he’s been Milan’s main creative talisman for the past three seasons. Conceptualizing Suso as a right winger may be a fool’s errand however, as Giampaolo seems hellbent on deploying either a 4-3-1-2 or 4-3-2-1 formation which requires the full backs to provide width as opposed to wingers.
One of the least explored options for Suso may theoretically be the best fit for the Spaniard if Giampaolo insists on deploying a 4-3-1-2 system. Milan’s search for a second striker has been well documented with reports omnipresent on the club’s preference for Angel Correa.
Milan are working on signing Atletico Madrid’s Angel Correa who can play as a second striker as well as a winger. He is valued at €55M. Jorge Mendes is also working on the transfers of Cutrone to Wolverhampton and Andre Silva to Monaco [@DiMarzio] pic.twitter.com/IB4vm5RE1V— Milan Eye (@MilanEye) July 18, 2019
While Suso may not be the fastest player, his quickness would be an asset at the second striker position, as he could use his naturally quick feet to run off last defenders and his movement to open up passing lanes. His deft touches, excellent link play and vision means not only could he drop deep to set up play but should he be a perfect complement to “Il Pistolero”, Krzysztof Piatek, up front. Suso also has a wicked left foot and improved right, with a penchant for the spectacular. It’s not a stretch to think that he could easily provide returns of ten goals and ten assists playing off a striker with excellent movement such as Piatek. Suso’s chances at playing in that position drop drastically however with the recent acquisition of Ante Rebic however, even with the incoming Croat, consideration may have to be given to Suso if his inconsistencies at trequartista continues.
Suso’s best position as of today remain as a winger, but chances of seeing him play in that position, given Giampaolo’s insistence on the 4-3-1-2 or 4-3-2-1 as well as management prioritizing a second striker, remain slim to none. Expect to see more of Suso as a trequartista behind two strikers, although Suso’s best position in a Giampaolo system, could very well be second striker. It just might be the perfect position for Suso.