There was a familiar face spotted walking the corridors of Melwood on Monday afternoon as on-loan midfielder Suso returned to Merseyside to reacquaint himself with old friends and surroundings.
The Spaniard is currently spending the 2013-14 season with Almeria, but with La Liga currently on a short winter break, he was eager to take up Brendan Rodgers' invitation to return to Liverpool for a catch-up on the progress he's been making over in Spain this term.
Afterwards, Suso sat down with Liverpoolfc.com for an exclusive chat, during which he was eager to stress how his outstanding form in his homeland's top flight will assist him in his quest to establish himself as a first-team star at Anfield.
Suso, it's great to see you. You're midway through your loan spell with Almeria - how's it going over there in La Liga?
It's really good for me to be in my country, Spain, playing close to where I'm from - it's only a three-hour drive, so my family are close. I'm playing every game, and that's what I wanted. The difference between the clubs is very big, but I went there to play and improve as a player.
In what ways do you think you're benefiting? How have you improved over the last few months?
To improve, you have to play games. You can improve in training, but it's not the same as when you're playing every week in games. In most of the matches, I play for 90 minutes in the first division [La Liga], so for me that was really important. As I said, the way to improve is by playing - I am playing against really good players. If you are not ready for that, you can't play.
What are some of the best experiences you've had out there so far?
When you see yourself playing against Real Madrid and Barcelona, and other teams, you can see they are really good, really focused on the game, and running and working all of the time. If you don't work at least the same as them, you won't even touch the ball. When you see yourself in that situation, all you want to do is run and do everything because otherwise, as I said, you won't touch the ball.
So presumably those experiences of playing against Barca and Real Madrid have been really beneficial for you...
Yes, it's really nice to play against those players. A lot of the best players in the world are playing against you, and you can see the difference and the quality they've got. I'm playing for a small team and we're trying not to get relegated to the second division, but I wanted to play, get 90 minutes every weekend, and I'm doing that, so I'm really happy.
You're creating a lot of goals for your teammates out there with plenty of assists. Is that a responsibility you're enjoying?
Goals and assists just come. You don't decide, 'I'm going to give an assist today' - they just come during the game. In Spain, maybe the football is a little bit slower than here, so for me it's better. But the quality of the players at Almeria is not the same as here at Liverpool. Maybe if I was playing here at Liverpool, my assists would be double...or maybe I wouldn't have any. Everything depends on how I'm working and playing.
You're back at Melwood today. Can you tell us why you're back?
In Spain, we're currently on a break and have a week's holiday. The boss, Brendan, wanted to have a chat and see how everything is going. I am really glad he called me and asked me to come here to chat. I obviously also wanted to see my teammates and how everything is here....and everything is still the same!
As a loan player, what does it mean to you to know Liverpool are keeping an eye on your form and welfare over in Spain?
I wanted to go on loan because I wanted to play, but I also wanted to show the boss and everyone that I can play in this team and play for Liverpool. I know it is one of the biggest clubs in the world and I want to play here; for me, the most important thing is playing in this team. The option was to go on loan, prove I can play in this team, and prove that I can get minutes. It's really important.
It must be nice for you to know that Liverpool are watching you closely out there in Spain...
Yes, you always feel happy when you know they are watching you and call you to come back here [to Melwood] and have a chat about what you're doing in Spain. It's really nice. For me, it's important they don't say, 'Okay, we'll send him on loan till the end of the season and then we'll see what we'll do with him when he comes back' - it's obviously nice they are keeping an eye on me and things are going well.
Have you been following Liverpool this season from over in Spain?
I watch every game. Obviously when we play on the same day, it can be difficult to watch on TV, but I am always keeping up-to-date on my phone and I can see the team are doing great.
So, as we said, you're halfway through your loan spell - what are your aims for the rest of the season?
One is to keep playing; keep playing 90 minutes every week and keep improving. Then to come back to Liverpool stronger. Another is to try and make sure the team don't get relegated to the second division. It's a nice city with nice people. Then next year come back here and play for Liverpool.
Is that your long-term aim - to establish yourself here at Liverpool?
Yes. For me, Liverpool is fantastic, as is the city - the people and how they live for football, go to the stadium and support the team. Now I am in Spain, I have had the chance to compare both countries in football, and I think England is a lot better than Spain.
Just finally, Liverpool fans have been following your fortunes very closely on social media and such - what does their support mean to you and do you have a message for them?
I always want to say thank-you to them. I know a lot of supporters of teams in Spain, and I have been living here in England for a few years and playing for the first team, and I can say Liverpool fans and the way they support is different - they could be the best in the world. Even the people who don't go to the stadium, they stay at home and watch the game, post on the internet and they know everything. Even when players are sometimes in a bad moment, they never say anything - they try to help the players, and this is really nice.