Melbourne City have completed an extraordinary piece of business by announcing earlier this morning the rest-of-season signing of 32-year-old, one-time Spanish international Markel Susaeta, who’ll be a direct replacement for (and a definite upgrade on) the departed Javier Cabrera out on the right wing.
The experienced winger has made over 500 appearances for famed Spanish side Athletic Bilbao, including 379 in La Liga, where he’s scored 38 goals and contributed 60 assists.
Susaeta also boasts an impressive continental career, making 54 Europa League appearances for 10 goals and 12 assists (including reaching the Final in 2012 against Atletico Madrid), as well as featuring in all six group-stage games of Bilbao’s 2014/15 UEFA Champions League campaign.
Whilst you’ll be familiar with these stats if you’ve already read the signing announcement on the club website, we’re also interested in trying to identify exactly what qualities Susaeta brings to the table and how he’ll benefit our other forwards and the team as we fend off competition for second spot.
Whilst the Spaniard (only the second one we’ve signed by the way – go on, who was the first?) can play on either wing, he was more prolific on the right during his time at Bilbao, reflecting the fact that he’s a natural right footer.
However, this certainly hasn’t stopped him from making a career of flighting in inch-perfect crosses to his strikers and late-arriving midfielders, a task which he can perform expertly on EITHER foot.
Susaeta’s crossing is without doubt his most valuable asset, and Jamie Maclaren’s probably rubbing his hands together imagining all the headers he’s going to score – if the understanding between striker and winger is there.
Beyond the crossing, the Spaniard generally boasts an impressive passing range and will undoubtedly also be able to orchestrate goals by sliding intelligent balls through the gaps in the opposing backline for JMac to run onto.
Whilst Susaeta’s never been a prolific scorer, he’s consistently chipped in with his handful of goals every season and has scored some absolute bangers from outside the box over the years.
Finally, whilst he’s not the paciest of wingers, we’re not really all that concerned that it’ll detract too much from his ability to perform in the A-League, where the best wingers over the years haven’t exactly been lightning personified themselves.
Here’s what Director of Football Michael Petrillo had to say about what fans can expect from the signing:
“Markel is a player that is well suited to the style of game we have implemented under Erick and a player who will add flair, potency and experience to our front third.”