Questions were rife over Suso earlier in the summer as to how he would fit in a possible 4-3-1-2 that new Milan coach Marco Giampaolo would implement this season.
The Spaniard has found himself permanently attached to the right wing in a 4-3-3 system for almost the entire time he’s been with us, and to his credit, he has been a pivotal creative figure for the Rossoneri.
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Suso has scored 23 goals and provided 31 assists in 136 appearances for Milan, and although there have been issues over consistency and a drop off in the latter stages of campaigns, there is little doubt that he has been a crucial part of the side in recent years.
Nevertheless, with doubts over his ability to show that quality in a more central position as a trequartista, coupled with the fact that Lucas Paqueta arrived in January and that is perhaps his preferred and most effective role, it not only raised question marks over Suso’s place in the side, but also his future at the club.
As noted by Calciomercato, Roma are still said to be interested in the 25-year-old, but Milan won’t listen to offers less than €30m.
While the speculation has rumbled on in recent months, that in itself is an issue as to whether or not a satisfactory offer will even be made to force the Milan management to consider an exit.
Now though, they face a new dilemma. As seen in the comments below, Giampaolo has thrown his support behind keeping Suso at San Siro, as it comes after a hugely impressive pre-season thus far in which the Spaniard has shown that he is more than capable of playing as the No.10.
“Suso is world-class. I told him and the club that. Suso isn’t a problem for us. We must keep our best players,” he is quoted as saying after the Man Utd game in Cardiff at the weekend, as per Sempre Milan.
From his superb goal against United, to the intricate passing and well-weighted through balls for the likes of Krzysztof Piatek, Suso has also shown a clever, and rather natural, ability to find pockets of space between the lines and that in turn has helped with the fluidity and quality of our build-up play to create goalscoring opportunities.
What a strike from Suso. #ICC2019 pic.twitter.com/mpW5LJUvUm
— Rocco (@ACMilanBuffalo) August 3, 2019
It really has been impressive to watch him adapt his game and qualities to that role with some commendably insisting all along that he was more than capable of doing so, and so that’s ultimately where the conundrum now lies for Milan.
Paqueta only returned to Milanello on Monday after an extended break following the Copa America, and so the next sensible step from Giampaolo will be to assess the Brazilian ace and consider how he could fit into his XI both as a trequartista or on the left of a midfield three, having played in the latter position in the second half of last season.
The issue comes into play where Milan are said to still need to balance the books with another sale, which in turn could also finance further reinforcements. As noted by MilanNews, via the paper edition of Tuttosport, Suso had been lined up as that sacrifice given the profit he would offer, but his form could now force the management to consider alternative options.
Nevertheless, will Suso be able to sustain this level of performance and show consistency across the season? Will a sale rob Giampaolo of a player that he evidently rates highly and has big plans for? What would it mean for Paqueta’s role? And what about the likes of Hakan Calhanoglu, Giacomo Bonaventura, Rade Krunic and Franck Kessie who are already fighting for places if others are pushed back into that scrap for a place in the midfield three alongside Ismael Bennacer?
It really does raise real questions now and Milan face a difficult yet welcome decision, as we haven’t had such quality depth for some time in this department and there is an argument to suggest that we should keep everyone and rotate, bringing in others when their teammates are perhaps out of form.
Time will tell what Milan will decide, but ultimately it’s a good dilemma to have and credit goes to Suso for silencing the doubters in pre-season and forcing this difficult decision upon the club with many, including myself, proven wrong so far in that there was a case to suggest that he didn’t have a place in the starting XI moving forward.