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Suso, Coutinho, Adorjan, Teixeira and Alberto, can only one survive?
14 Oct 2013 13:40:42
It seems to pop up quite regularly on here, so I thought I'd put a blog together on it. Did we need Luis Alberto? It is clear we now have an abundance of young playmakers including; Joao Carlos Teixeira, Jesus Fernandez Saez (Suso), Luis Alberto Romero, Krisztian Adorjan and of course, Phillipe Coutinho. All of these players prefer to play in the number 10 role or in the hole if you prefer to call it that. However they are all a very similar age. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that we can only have one No.10 on the pitch at once. In this blog, I am going to look at the possibilities and potential of each player. Only Alberto and Coutinho have any meaningful stats to provide, but I will try to give a fair and descriptive opinion of each player.
First off is Coutinho, the 21 year old Brazilian maestro. I have actually reviewed him before in my very first blog. However this is less of a review, and more of an opinion. At 5ft7 he is the smallest here, but that actually helps him. His low centre of gravity means he can zip in and out of players to great effect. Coutinho has been excellent for us since his arrival. He has added 3 goals and 8 assists as well as countless other unnoticed contributions towards other goals. Linking midfield to attack would appear to be his key speciality. Equally capable of running into space or dropping deeper to pick up the ball and drive on, he has become key in our attacks with Gerrard and Lucas not offering much attacking support nowadays. When he is not on the pitch, the team resorts to Gerrard pinging 70 yard diagonals all game. This does not fit in with Rodgers idea of protecting the ball and maintaining possession. Coutinho has incredibly quick feet allowing him to beat a man in very tight spaces. He is also very strong on the ball which has surprised me. He can take a beating! What is perhaps the most amazing thing in his game for a player of his age is his vision. His ability to thread a ball through the eye of a needle is right up there. This kind of vision rarely comes on in one so young. The last player to display this kind of precise passing at 20 years old was probably Kaka. Coutinho could do a lot worse than emulating his early career. Is Coutinho versatile though? It has to be argued that one day, one of the younger men could over take Coutinho as the better player in the hole. Where would that leave Coutinho? I do think he is versatile, and he can be very effective as a wide man drifting in. This also allows wing backs to bomb forward on the over lap. He formed a good partnership with Enrique towards the back end of last season doing just that. I think this young Brazilian has enough going for him to stay in the side for a long time. His flair if nothing else puts the opposition on the back foot constantly. Maybe he will have to adapt, but he has enough in his locker to do it. I don't think he is physical enough to play a deeper role, and lacks the discipline, but he can play anywhere in attack.
Next I will talk a bit about a player who in my opinion is the most exciting mentioned. If you've watched our academy over the last 3 years, it is of course Suso. Everything right about a modern day Spaniard, this 19 year old could be something really special. Suso has more technical ability than any other player at the club, except maybe Jordan Henderson. Is first touch and close control is immaculate. What he has that Henderson does not, is the ability to run with the ball. He has incredibly quick feet, and is also more skilful than Coutinho. He has a fair few tricks up his sleeves! He is currently on loan bamboozling La Liga defences and shining by far the brightest in the worst team in the division. He is 3rd in the charts for key dribbles, and is adding a fair amount of assists too. He has 3 to his name so far which is a decent return and he also scored a brilliant long range goal the other week. If he continues like this, Rodgers will simply have to give him a place in the squad next season. He is very two footed as well which makes him a nightmare to tackle. He can roll it around his own feet and send a defender crazy before bursting past them in an instant. He is undoubtedly best played in the hole, but has been performing excellently out wide for Almeria. Like Coutinho he usually drifts infield, but he also loves to get down the wing and put a ball into the box. He doesn't rely on pace at all though, he can seem to take an age to get to the by-line, and even then he takes his time and picks a man out. Don't be fooled into thinking he's not quick though, as he has a surprising turn of pace. So he can play wide and he can play in the hole, what else can he do? Due to the fact he has a great amount of discipline and positional sense, as well as a far broader range of passing than Coutinho, he is very good in the deep lying playmaker role as well. To put it simply, if we can keep Suso at the club, he will play for us one day. Be that in any of these 3 positions, you can count on him making one of them his own. At 5ft10 he is not as agile as Coutinho, but it does appear to make him a more dominant presence and certainly he comes across as a bit more composed. My only fear is that one day, Real Madrid will come calling. How do you convince a boyhood Madrid fan of Spanish descent, to stay and play for you in that scenario? Quite simply, we need to be winning things.
Luis Alberto is much like Suso in some ways. He is also very composed and is 6ft tall giving him a bit more presence in midfield. At 21 years old, this Spaniard is a little older than the aforementioned and to be honest, I struggle to see how he is better. I do not intend to be harsh, as Alberto has great potential, but if you look at him solely as a No.10, it's hard to see where he fits in. Despite being great technically and very prolific in front of goal (he claimed 11 goals and 17 assists last year for the Barcelona B team), he doesn't seem to have that flair. I don't think that's something you can learn really either. He is none the less a very effective player. He may not be fancy, but he does everything simple in almost typical Spanish fashion and makes it look exceptional. He is also quite a disciplined player positionally and regularly played in a deeper role. Like Suso, he has a great passing range. If he could bulk up a bit, he could be something akin to Xabi Alonso in our midfield. Sitting deep and starting attacks off, before slowly drifting forward to join in. That is his major flaw though I feel. Pace. Although he is not diabolically slow, he is not going to give you the work rate Coutinho and Suso would, purely because he cannot get around as easily. However, Alonso and Hamann were never really flyers! Sometimes a greater positional sense is worth more defensively than the ability to fly about the pitch. Alberto does have the stamina to press the opposition, but he just lacks that yard of pace to regularly make an interception for me. If he can really perfect his positional play though, we could be onto a winner. For me though, he will never be our first choice attacking midfielder purely because he isn't as good as other options we currently have, but he could be a very versatile squad player. One thing you can rule out, is seeing him in a wide role. That would be suicide. He'd be lost out there, and there's no way he could put in the shift required.
Adorjan is very under rated. Perhaps due to Suso he kind of flew under the radar for our academy. Now 20 years old, the Hungarian is plying his trade on loan and Groningen. He had perhaps the most mixed debut in history, burying a superb goal, assisting another, before being sent off! After his ban, he came straight back into the side and scored again. There is undoubted talent here. Despite being 5ft10, he seems to play similarly to Coutinho. Although he doesn't have the flair, he drops deeper for the ball fairly often, and likes to drive forward. He is also not lightening fast, but has surprising agility. He twists and turns like someone at least 3 or 4 inches shorter than he actually is. This trait sometimes allows him to move the ball on after beating a couple of players, and only traveling about 3 metres. I don't know whether he will make it in the English league though as he struggles with physical defenders. I really like him as a player and would love him to prove me wrong, but like Alberto he will come up against the same problem of not being as good as the other options. Unlike Alberto though, he is not versatile enough to play in a deeper role, and I don't think a wide role would suit him at all. By all means though Krisztian, make me eat my words!
Finally, we come to Teixeira. This young Portuguese player is still only 20 but is finding it difficult at the moment. He is pretty much a carbon copy of Suso, but showing less ability as of yet. He has the technical ability, he has the passing range, and he can do the skills needed to create space for himself. He's even the same height as Suso at 5ft10, and moves in the exact same way. What he seems to lack though is awareness and composure. His recent loan spell failed because of this. Smaller/younger players are always going to struggle in the lower, more physical leagues, but technically proficient players can usually get around that. Teixeira struggled immensely at Brentford. Bear in mind he is just back from a long injury lay off that has set him back a year in his development, but while he was sat on the treatment table, Adorjan and Suso have flew past him. He still has what it takes to make it, and his ability to play in the deeper playmaking role will help him a lot. However he does not have the versatility to play out wide. Therefore, he will be directly competing with almost everybody else on this list for 2 positions. When you also consider that we have the only slightly older Henderson and Joe Allen currently ahead of him for the deeper role, it's hard to see where he will fit in. He has unbelievable talent though. He effectively orchestrated the demolition of our own academy in the NextGen series whilst still playing for Sporting Lisbon. If he can find his feet, he is probably in the top 3 players out of the 5 alongside Coutinho and Suso (in terms of natural ability), but as it stands, he is the furthest away from the first team of them all. As I said about Adorjan though, I hope he proves me wrong and goes on to become a first team regular. I really don't see that happening unless we lose one of Coutinho or Suso though if I'm being honest. Like Alberto, he may have to settle for being a very good and versatile member of the squad.
To conclude, No. More than one of these players can survive, but I'd say right now, Teixeira and Adorjan are in the most danger. Alberto has experience and versatility on his side, Suso is just the best player of them all, and Coutinho has flair and the ability to play anywhere in attack going for him. They will all be great players and have long successful careers, and it's not exactly a bad situation for the club to be in. But I think at most, 3 of these players can make it long term at the club, and unless Adorjan and Teixeira up there game, the others may just pip them to the prize.
15 November 2013
Adorjan will likely move on this summer I think. He's not lived up to liverpools expectations. I think we should expect a bid from a German side.
Alberto is good.I think you've maybe looked at this too much trying to fit these men into a simple 4-3-3 formation. I don't expect Rodgers to stick with the same formations week in week out, each man will have his own merits when playing home/away vs certain opposition.
I do think you've slightly exaggerated suso's capabilities also
10 November 2013
Very good assessment, although I think Alberto will be better than you think. He will get more goals than the rest if given a chance.
17 October 2013
Brilliant blog.. we have a number of great amazing techincal players coming form the youth team.. much better then the days when we could only call upon the likes of spearings etc..
15 October 2013
Great as always Adam. A question about Suso though, didn't he reject Real Madrid and Barca to join our academy? So maybe he would show some loyalty? Who knows.
15 October 2013
Suso better than coutinho ? Have you been smoking that same stuff as they did over at the emirates!!
14 October 2013
Painful and yet typical on this site over hype about suso. I started watching the academy games after carra's testimonial about 2 seasons ago & in that time suso has never really scored goals, barely got assists I can remember anyway. No pace although more than Pacheco. And all round I'd say you're probably right he's the typical 'jack of all trades midfielder' an earlier blog possibly written by you. He's light years behind the level of coutinho a million miles. He's a typical mardy Spaniard I've seen him get straight reds at least 3 times. He's very jack wilshire, seems fantastic to watch occasional brilliance and very little end product Wilshires stats are along the lines of in the pl 4 assist in 3 years and 6 goals. Can you ever see suso getting in the national side? Not a chance due to the players above him being outstanding. At the u20 world cup he didn't shine at all infact the lad crystal palace signed shone far brighter. Oliver Torres was the best midfielder & balague says barca have the first option on him because of villa, suarez the city lad went to barca for 9m & yet suso goes on loan to almeria? I haven't seen a second of his this season and certainly hope you are right though!