By James Kilpatrick
Where would Barcelona's Denis Suarez fit at Arsenal?
The former Manchester City midfielder is reportedly close to a move to Arsenal
Last Updated: 29/01/19 6:19pm
Denis Suarez is reportedly close to joining Arsenal, but what can he offer them and where would he play? We look at Suarez's career as he nears a return to English football.
The Barcelona winger has entered the final 18 months of his deal and is expected to sign a loan deal with the Gunners that includes an option to make the move permanent.
The move would give Suarez the chance to reignite his career under his former boss Unai Emery who he played under at Sevilla during the 2014/15 season.
Denis Suarez factbox
|Full name||Denis Suarez Fernandez|
|Date of birth||6 January 1994|
|Previous clubs||Celta, Manchester City, Barcelona, Sevilla (loan), Villarreal|
But with the Spanish midfielder's game time limited at Barcelona, what attracts Emery to sign him? We take a closer look at the 25-year-old…
Difficulties at Manchester City
Suarez moved from Celta Vigo to City as a 17-year-old at a time when the club's infrastructure was changing. Roberto Mancini was in charge at the time, and City had just seen CEO Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain arrive from Barcelona.
He featured in City's pre-season tour of USA under Mancini and impressed, but it quickly became clear to him he would not be a regular fixture of a star-laden senior squad.
"When I arrived I went to the US with the first team, played there, and Mancini was very happy with me in training," he told the Guardian in 2016.
"He told me: 'This year you're going to make your Premier League debut, you can be a very good player for us.' But then pre-season ends, we go home, I go to the filial [City's U21 side], the coach [Andy Welsh] doesn't know me and I hardly play."
Although Suarez continued to train alongside David Silva and Sergio Aguero, he only played two cup matches, alongside regular youth games, before Barcelona purchased him as a 19-year-old prospect in August 2013.
The Spaniard wanted more regular game time in a similar pursuit undertaken by Jadon Sancho and Real Madrid's £15.5m signing Brahim Diaz.
Learning under Emery
After spending the 2013/14 season playing for Barcelona B, where he scored seven goals from midfield, Suarez was loaned to Sevilla for two seasons which saw Ivan Rakitic move the other way.
It was there that Suarez was acquainted with Emery; the head coach Suarez labelled "one of the best coaches around" in 2015.
"He is one of the best coaches around. He really gets the best out of us," Suarez told UEFA's official website.
"He considers each and every one of his players and always puts those who are in the best possible shape in his starting lineup. I have been playing for him for a year and I am really happy.
"He always talks to you, both in good moments - to prevent you being distracted - and bad, to help you recover. The way he treats players is exceptional."
Emery provided Suarez with what he needed; regular minutes. He featured 47 times for an immensely successful Sevilla side who went on to win their second successive Europa League title.
It was Suarez's goal in Sevilla's final Europa League group match against HNK Rijeka that sent the La Liga club through to the knockout stages.
What is his best position?
Emery was asked that very question after Arsenal's FA Cup win over Blackpool on Saturday, which he replied: "He was playing as a left or right winger for Sevilla when he was with me."
Suarez's technical ability and agility makes him tactically versatile, making him equally capable of playing in central midfield or on the wing.
For Barcelona, he has featured in central midfield and out wide in the 17 La Liga minutes he has played this season. He was used more regularly on the flanks last season when Ernesto Valverde favoured a 4-4-2.
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His best performance this season came in Barcelona's 4-1 second leg win over Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey last month when he scored twice off the left flank having registered a full 90 minutes at the Nou Camp.
How would Emery use him?
Suarez has already proven to be a competent utility player in his career which may suggest Emery sees him as a useful option off the bench, at least to begin with.
With a fiercely competitive second half of the Premier League season in full flow, and a potentially deep run into the Europa League knockout stages on the horizon, it is unsurprising Emery is looking to add further depth in the wide areas.
Arsenal have alternated between using three and four at the back this season with Emery unafraid to use players outside of their traditional positions. Suarez may be used as a wingback, winger or central midfielder depending on how Emery chooses to set his starting XI up.
The versatility Suarez offers suggests he would have few problems progressing in England, for the second time around, under a manager he highly respects.