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Liverpool signing who snubbed Barcelona and Real Madrid dreams of return after being frozen out by Brendan Rodgers

Suso was highly-rated at Liverpool but left for AC Milan back in January 2015 in a £1m deal after being frozen out by Brendan Rodgers.

 

Rafa Benitez left Liverpool with a number of parting gifts when departing the club in the summer of 2010, with the Spaniard involved in a number of transfers during his final months at Anfield only to have moved on before players were ready for first team duty.

 

Admittedly some fared a lot better than others with the then soon to be ex-Reds boss involved in early negotiations to land Milan Jovanovic and Danny Wilson from Standard Liege and Rangers.

 

He was also still in charge when a £1.7m deal was agreed with Charlton Athletic to sign Jonjo Shelvey, a couple of weeks before his own dismissal, while Raheem Sterling and Suso had been brought in from Queens Park Rangers and Cadiz respectively under Benitez’s hand and started their own Liverpool careers in the youth ranks as winter turned to spring.

The signing of the Spaniard in particular was seen as something of a coup, given he had been in talks with Real Madrid and Barcelona before the Reds intervened.

And while you’d think any young Spanish boy would dream of playing for either La Liga giant, Benitez made sure that Suso would be moving to Liverpool.

 

“I had good offers from them [Barcelona and Real Madrid],” he revealed after signing his first professional contract with the club in November 2010 on his 17th birthday.

 

“I was going to sign for Real Madrid but one day before it the phone rang and Rafael Benitez spoke to me. He convinced me that Liverpool was the club for me and after that I had to change my plans. I was going to come to Liverpool.

 

“I have always liked the Premier League more than La Liga and I decided that it would be better for me to come here – even with the English weather!

 

I remember watching the final of the Champions League in 2005 when Liverpool beat AC Milan. It was an amazing final and after that I really liked the idea of playing for this team.

 

I feel very happy. I want to be here a lot of years. I want to go on and play for Liverpool’s first team, playing in every game. But if I want to have that I have to work harder and do my very best every day, in every training session.

 

Suso had actually already been given his first taste of senior action before signing his first professional contract, after Roy Hodgson brought the then 16-year-old on as a late substitute in 1-0 friendly defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach, though two senior players almost denied the Spaniard such an opportunity.

 

“We were short of players but as it happened, Aurelio signed at the last minute and Insua decided that he is still undecided about his future and was therefore able to be selected,” Hodgson revealed after the game.

 

“Suddenly we had 20 players instead of 18. I was concerned in the beginning we wouldn’t have 18 players so Raheem Sterling and Suso were called up and having done so I wanted to give them a few minutes on the pitch.”

 

He’d also come on in Jamie Carragher’s testimonial as the Reds’ beat Everton in September 2010, but the majority of his formative time with the club came in the reserves as he was fast tracked beyond the academy despite his junior years, once the Liverpool coaching team were given a first-hand look at him themselves, and shone both for the second-string and in the NextGen competition as he quickly established himself as first-choice.

 

Creating such waves before he’d even turned 17, and having been wanted by Real Madrid and Barcelona prior to moving to Anfield, Suso was understandably creating excitement among the Reds fanbase, along with Sterling, as supporters waited for the duo to make a senior breakthrough.Suso and Dani Pacheco

Suso and Dani Pacheco

Promoted to Melwood under Sir Kenny Dalglish, the playmaker would have to wait to make that elusive next step but continued to make valuable progress behind the scenes.

“Everything has been hugely positive and it is great that the Academy is so heavily involved in Kenny (Dalglish)’s plans,” academy chief Frank McParland revealed following the Spaniard’s senior step up.

“After that meeting he decided to take Conor Coady and Suso up to Melwood with him to train with the first-team.

“He took me and the two boys down to Melwood in his car which was obviously a great moment for them. I watched them train with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole and Fabio Aurelio – all the players who weren’t involved against Everton.

“They both did very well and were a credit to the Academy. I have to say that just watching Gerrard in training was special. Conor and Suso came off the pitch and said that for a 20 minute spell the skipper was unplayable. I was watching and I had to agree with them!

“The two lads will now spend the rest of the week there and it is very possible they will go to the game with Wolves and stay at the hotel.”

And, as was the case with many young Liverpool players of the time, Gerrard made a considerable impression on the Spaniard.

“Our wish is to be like Gerrard and Carragher, to be able to play as many games and be a top player for so long,” Suso would admit of himself and Sterling.

“Raheem and I are really good friends. It helps when you come into the side at the same time as another young player, because you both understand each others’ situation.

“Playing with Gerrard and [Luis] Suarez is something I will treasure forever. When I was young I’d always say Zidane (was my idol) but since I’ve been here I would say Stevie (Gerrard),” he later revealed.

 

Every time I see him it’s like he’s from another world. He works hard every day and he always wants to improve even though he has won almost everything. At 32, he still wants to keep getting better. That shows me how much I have to learn.”

 

Come the start of the 2012/13 season, Suso had another new Liverpool manager following Brendan Rodgers’ appointment.

 

Though after being included in the Reds’ pre-season tour of North America, playing 45 minutes in friendlies against Toronto and AS Roma, this time he was on the verge of his senior breakthrough.

 

Handed his debut as part of a young side that beat Young Boys 5-3 in the Europa League in September 2012, he came on at half-time against Manchester United in Liverpool’s next Premier League outing for his top-flight debut, before making his first league start in a 5-2 win over Norwich City the following weekend.

 

Rodgers was full of praise for the now 18-year-old following his debut, declaring he “loved Suso’s arrogance on the ball” and handed him a new contract the following month.

 

“We are all delighted Suso has committed his long-term future to Liverpool Football Club,” the Northern Irishman said.

 

“At 18, he has demonstrated outstanding technical qualities but also shown very good temperament to play for such a prestigious club.

But it would prove to be his final appearance for the club, with him making just one more matchday squad appearance, against Everton in September 2014.

Meanwhile, he would also miss out on a final chance to earn Rodgers’ trust, being selected in the starting XI in the Champions League against Basel only to suffer an injury in the warm-up. He would leave the club in the following January.

Flying out for talks with AC Milan, the Spaniard agreed a pre-contract agreement with the Serie A giants in January, before insisting he didn’t want to finish the season back at Liverpool, prompting a £1m deal to be agreed seven years ago this week.

“When I returned to Liverpool to start training, I felt that something had changed and I realised that they wouldn’t renew my contract,” he later recalled of his decision to leave.

“There were six months left of my contract, so I called my agent. He told me that Milan was an option after the end of the season.

“I replied that I would like that a lot, because I thought it was another big club with a lot of history. I didn’t like the idea of waiting until June.

“I came to Milan to have my medical examinations and then I met Galliani. I told him ‘I don’t want to go back to Liverpool and I would like to stay here’.

“At that point, he told me ‘okay, don’t worry’. The next day, my agent called me and said that Galliani had done everything, and if I wanted, I could join Milan straight away”.Suso of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Reading at Anfield on October 20, 2012.

As a result, he left Anfield at the age of 22, having made 21 appearances and recorded one goal and one assist. It was a minimal return for a youngster who had been so highly-rated.

And he was displeased with how his Reds career had turned out when explaining his decision to leave, no longer speaking with the previous affection he once had for the club.

“I believe that when a club this important wants you then you can’t have doubts, it was the right choice,” he explained after joining the club.

 

I’m fine here, I think that I’m not missing anything, maybe I’d like to have my family closer but they come to visit me and I’m fine with my girlfriend. Honestly, I don’t miss anything [about Liverpool].”

 

“My contract was set to expire in June and Liverpool’s offers did not satisfy me, neither economically nor in a sporting sense,” Suso later admitted to Spanish media. “I arrived very much as a boy and I have learned a lot. I have grown, but I have not noticed a lot of trust in me.

 

“I wanted a change of scenery. And Milan offers me everything that I needed. It’s a great [club], with an incredible history, but now it is not at its best.”

 

It was a meagre fee for a player the club had such high hopes for, and a section of the club’s fan-base did consider his exit a mistake.

 

Considering how his career has fared leaving Liverpool, there is such substance to such a claim, though it would be hard to argue he’d have a place under Jurgen Klopp given the Reds’ rise to Champions League and Premier League glory.

 

Regardless, Suso’s head was turned and he would later describe Milan as his dream move, even if he had to first depart on loan to force his way into their first team plans.

 

“I left Liverpool after an operation and the first two months were complicated because I had just come back from the injury, after being out for five months,” he would later reveal.

 

“So much has changed. When I arrived here it wasn’t easy: I didn’t play a lot and I had to go to Genoa on loan in order to play,” he admitted in a different interview.

 

“Milan was always my dream: when I was a kid I watched the great players who wore the shirt and now to be playing here is incredible. I am proud to be able to play for Milan and one day I’ll be able to tell my son: ‘Your father played for Milan.’”

 

Now 28, Suso is perhaps admittedly unlikely to re-sign for Liverpool one day. However, with Sevilla European regulars, perhaps he will get the chance to return to Anfield one day in continental competition.

 

The La Liga outfit have frustrated the Reds in both Champions League and Europa League action during Jurgen Klopp’s tenure. And with Suso convinced they are a match for anyone, they could give him the platform to prove Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool wrong about letting him leave once and for all.

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