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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Liverpool Have a “Xabi Alonso” in their Midst

If there’s one sight that almost every Liverpool fan would be hankering to see at the John Lennon Airport in Liverpool before the transfer window closes, it would be that of Spain’s European Championship winning midfielder Xabi Alonso.

The deep lying playmaker may have departed Anfield nearly three years ago but the gap he left on his trail was and has been tantamount to his playing position – deep.

Little wonder then that the Kopites have been following his career painstakingly. The Basque-born midfielder was one of the key players in the all-conquering Spanish team that is still making merry of the Euro 2012 title. Playing as part of a 6-man midfield, the 30-year-old was instrumental in dictating the pace of the game as he mopped up possession and formed an impregnable defensive midfield pairing with Sergio Busquets.

No sooner had the Euro games come to an end than word started going round that Real Madrid would not extend his contract as is the policy with the club’s players who have hit the age 30 mark. But as some internet sources were reporting this, others revealed that Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho was keen for Xabi Alonso to be handed a two-year contract extension that would keep him at the Santiago Bernabeu until 2016.

The latter may have heartbroken many a heart and the player has since come out to put the matter to rest, expressing his desire to return to Liverpool some day in future while also declaring that he is happy at Madrid for now.

But need Liverpool fans continue mourning for the return of the World Cup winning midfielder? Not when they have one such player among their ranks.

Am talking about Jesus Joquin Fernandez Saez de la Torre, better known as Suso.

The Spain U19 star was snapped up by Rafa Benitez from Cardiz in the summer of 2010. Liverpool beat Barcelona and Real Madrid for his signature, justifying why he’s so highly rated.  

At his former club, Cardiz, he played as a left midfielder but has been playing on the right wing for the Liverpool reserves. But such is his versatility that he has been occupying the central midfield role for the Spain U-19 team that is currently playing the European U-19 championships in Estonia.

A critical look at his style of play, range of passing and positioning reveals to you why he might just be the one to fill Alonso’s boots, if not do more.

The boy has a good shot on him. His passing is pinpoint and can hit them long like Xabi. He can cross from either flank. His dribbling is better than Xabi’s. He can dictate the pace of the game. His turn is Xavi-esque, has body power that defies his young age, and has the intelligence to spot the run of a teammate behind the opposition defence.

His only Achilles heel may be tackling. But he’s not modeled for that. And should there be a need to refine that, he couldn’t have gotten better tutors around him than the likes of Steven Gerard and Lucas Leiva.

Yank duo Tom Hicks and George Gillet began the club’s downfall. But it’s also widely seen that Xabi Alonso’s departure in 2009 acted as a catalyst. The club has been struggling to fill his boots ever since. 

But in Suso, they have the player in their midst. One who’s been around Liverpool for many years than Alonso was when he was signed from Real Sociedad. One who’s definitely younger, perhaps more creative and more skilful. One who won't struggle to adapt to Brendan Rodgers' football philosophy of pass and move, tiki-taka, name it, because that's the football that Suso plays.

It’s no rocket science that Liverpool will struggle to bring in big names into the club; Gylfi, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, to mention but a few. But nevertheless, the battle to reclaim the club’s status as one of England and Europe’s cream of the crop stoutly begins this coming season. And what best way to win the battle than get your men from within?

Suso may be shy of his 19th birthday but as his new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said, "If you're good enough, no matter what's your age (Raheem, Suso?), you'll play!”

Get in lads!

And That's thesteifmastertake!!