After returning to Barcelona in 2016, Denis Suarez probably thought his luck was about to change.
Originally at Celta Vigo and then Manchester City, the midfielder first played for the Catalan club at B team level between 2013-2015, but a lack of first-team opportunities saw him firstly go out on loan to Sevilla and then join Villarreal on a permanent deal with a buy-back option.
The Catalans decided to exercise the option, but since then, aside from a few fleeting appearances, the 24-year-old Spaniard has never really cemented a place for himself in the starting line up or otherwise.
In fact, he’s played total of 100 minutes in 2018/19.
It’s for that reason, and what would appear to be a steadfast refusal by Ernesto Valverde to integrate him into the setup – many times he’s not even made the matchday squad – that has seen Suarez, regrettably, admit defeat.
Pastures anew beckon, and it’s alleged that a number of clubs have already made inquiries.
One of them appears to be Arsenal, and Suarez has apparently given a ‘green light’ to such a move in January according to multiple media outlets.
A preference for moving back to the Premier League has been acknowledged, and though Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea have been named as another interested party, it’s easy to see why Suarez would prefer the Gunners.
For a start, Aaron Ramsey will be on the move at the end of the season, so there is a gap to be filled in Arsenal’s midfield. Chelsea are already well stocked in that department.
Further, Suarez has already played under Unai Emery when at Sevilla, his loan move part of the deal which took Ivan Rakitic in the opposite direction.
Both Emery and Suarez enjoyed their time together, and one can’t underestimate the confidence a player derives from knowing how well thought of he is by his manager.
The structure that this particular coach brings to his teams can be overbearing for some, but orderly and efficient is just fine as far as Suarez is concerned.
Though Arsenal fans might be a little bemused by their club’s willingness to sign a player who can’t get anywhere near his current club’s first team, the player’s status is a little misleading because he isn’t that bad.
In a 2016 interview whilst at Villarreal, and before their Europa League tie with Liverpool, he compared himself with current team-mate, Phillipe Coutinho, suggesting that they have ‘similar characteristics.’
Coutinho is the more decisive in terms of goals scored and that’s Suarez’s Achilles heel; he just doesn’t score enough. But both like to attack and get at the opposition.
The latter certainly won’t hide and will demand the ball at all times which isn’t a bad trait to have even when your confidence must be battered.
Transitionally, Suarez works well in getting the ball from back to front, and a high level of passing accuracy will sit well with the purists at the Emirates Stadium.
Just as importantly, perhaps more so, he’s a workhorse. Ramsey might be on his way but the Welshman has always put in a shift when required. Any new incumbent has to match that work-rate as a start point.
Predominantly played on the left side of midfield, Suarez has a penchant to roam in-field, but is adept with both feet and will happily take the ball down the channels if required.
His final ball needs a bit of work too, but mental rustiness will have played some part there. It’s certainly not a deal breaker.
As a foil for the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil, he will be a useful addition, and though Barca will get a decent uplift on the €3.5m that they paid for Suarez, Arsenal will still be getting themselves a bargain.
Still a few years short of his peak, his hire makes sense for the north Londoners both stylistically and financially. For Suarez himself, the chance to finally put a marker down somewhere will be too good to resist.