Mombaerts believes Susaeta can be the Hyundai A-League's best player
Erick Mombaerts says Markel Susaeta has the potential to be the best player in the Hyundai A-League once the former La Liga veteran hits his stride for Melbourne City.
Susaeta, who played more than 500 games for Athletic Bilbao in Basque Country, is beginning to find his feet for City after joining the Victorian club following an unsuccessful tenure with J-League outfit Gamba Osaka.
Mombaerts admits the 32-year-old has a fair way to go before hitting peak match fitness, although the Spaniard completed his first 90-minute match in last Friday's derby win over Melbourne Victory.
A little over a year ago, the attacker was playing against Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Having spent a decade rubbing shoulders with some of world football's greatest, Mombaerts is confident that when Susaeta completely settles in Australia he could become the best in the Hyundai A-League.
"With the talent and experience, yes I think so," said the Frenchman when asked on Thursday.
"Not too many players have played more than 500 games in La Liga.
"I want to congratulate him because he has had no time to prepare and started to play very early.
"He played 90 minutes against Victory, which is amazing because he hasn't had too many training sessions with us.
"I'm sure we have not seen the real Markel Susaeta. He will be better."
Mombaerts hinted that he sees the Spaniard in a midfield role for City once fully fit.
In his four outings for the club so far, Susaeta has predominantly occupied wide midfield roles - although in City's 0-0 draw with Perth Glory on January 25, he played a more central position as Mombaerts employed a back five.
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"He is really a good player, very smart, very mobile. He is the perfect player for our style of play.
"But maybe in the future he will change his position. Maybe he is more interesting to see this kind of player in the middle in the future."
Mombaerts also shrugged off any concerns around Jamie Maclaren's hamstring.
The Socceroos forward left the field immediately after scoring his 14th goal in 14 games in last Friday's derby win but that measure was precautionary in nature.
Connor Metcalfe is available for Saturday's trip to Wellington Phoenix but Mombaerts said "his knee is still painful."