We here at CdT are nothing if not experts at reading between the lines (stifle that laughter), and with the precipitous drop off in Mahrez rumors lately, plus, you know, Monchi stating unequivocally that this week’s offer, believed to be in the €35 to €40 million range, was indeed their final attempt to pry the Algerian from Leicester City, it seems as though that well has run dry. And while the two clubs may be working behind the scenes, everything that’s fit to print suggests otherwise; that the Foxes were holding firm to their valuation of Mahrez.
So, with that in mind, and as we discussed last week, Monchi ain’t no fool—he’s had a list of players locked and loaded in reserve. And now it appears as though we know who option B may truly be, AC Milan’s playmaker/winger, Jesús Joaquín Fernández Sáenz de la Torre. Mercifully he goes simply by Suso—can you imagine jamming all that on the back of a kit—and, Spanish naming traditions aside, he may actually be a shrewder investment than his Leicester City counterpart.
Suso is three years younger than Mahrez and is fresh off what was undoubtedly his best season as a pro. In 34 league appearances, Suso was masterful for Milan, scoring seven goals and chipping in nine seven assists, while averaging 1.9 key passes and 2.2 dribbles per match. While Suso was largely fielded as a right winger, he made spot appearances as an attacking midfielder during Milan’s sixth place campaign.
And since he’s reportedly being considered as Mahrez option B, we might as well compare them, huh?
Since Suso and Mahrez were separated by a mere 12 minutes of action last season, this is practically a dream comparision. Based on per 90 minute figures, Suso compared favorably to Mahrez in all your standard winger categories—key passes, chances created, dribbles, shot %—besting him in key passes and chances created, while only averaging .08 fewer dribbles per 90 minutes. By the by, Salah destroyed both of them in nearly every category.
Even if we compare Suso’s ‘16-’17 with Mahrez’s breakout ‘15-’16 campaign, the differences aren’t that vast. Suso only averaged .01 fewer chances created per 90 minutes and had a slight edge in key passes per 90 minutes, while Mahrez beat him out in dribbles and shot accuracy. (I would have loved to share the comparison here, but for all it’s plaudits, the sharing feature of Squawka’s comparison matrix is, well, shit).
Point being, for you Mahrez lovers out there, the drop off to Suso isn’t that steep, and some, including myself, would say he’s the better play for Roma at this point in time. He’s athletic, versatile and has the inverted right winger thing that Eusebio Di Francesco so desperately craves. Roma’s farm system is pretty deep, save for one area, the wing, so grabbing Suso now would cure a lot of ails in the future.
The problem may simply be trying to pry him off a Serie A rival. While Milan has bought virtually every player under the sun this summer, they may be loathe to help out a chief competitor, but as we mentioned last week, with all that money going out, they might be motivated to creep their balance books back towards the black.
Further complicating matters, Suso recently changed agents and has publicly proclaimed that he doesn’t want to leave Milan, but we can hope that his people are reading the tea leaves and won’t find much consistent playing time for their client, who is most definitely a talent on the rise.
So, could Suso be the solution?