Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has praised the performance of Real Sociedad’s Mark Gonzalez against Real Madrid last weekend, and he hopes his efforts will be rewarded with a move to Liverpool next season.

The reigning European champions attempted to sign the Albacete player last summer but Gonzalez failed was turned down for a work permit by the Department of Employment.

Gonzalez subsequently moved to Sociedad on loan and impressed in a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid.

“He was the best player on the pitch against Madrid and that’s three goals he’s scored now since he went to Sociedad,” said Benitez.

“I said at the time I was surprised by the decision not to allow him to join us.

“When you see the level he is playing at now, it shows we had a good case and what a good player he actually is.

“We are hopeful he will come in the summer because he can be an important player for us,” added Benitez.

“He has pace, quality, can score and he works very hard for the whole 90 minutes for the team – all qualities that will help him settle in quickly here.

“You have to remember he was injured for six months and so he is improving with every game he plays, recovering his fitness and raising his level. He can make an impact in The Premiership.”

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