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What’s going on with Denis Suarez at Arsenal?

The Barcelona midfielder joined on loan in January

Manchester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Denis Suarez swapped Barcelona for a loan spell with Arsenal in January in what looked like a pretty good deal for all parties.

The midfielder had only made a handful of appearances for Barcelona in the first half of the season and looked in need of a new challenge and some regular football to revive his career.

Denis seemed particularly pleased to be working again with Unai Emery, who he played under during a loan spell with Sevilla.

“I think he made me a football player. When I joined Sevilla I was a prospect. I was coming off the back of a great season in the second division with Barcelona B, but it was a big step up to the elite level. He really helped me.

Source | Arsenal Player

Except it hasn’t exactly worked out like that yet for Denis and Arsenal, with the 25-year-old still to start a game for the Gunners. In fact he’s managed just 67 Premier League minutes spread over four appearances for Arsenal.

He might have thought he’d get more a chance in the Europa League, but he’s fared even worse in European competition, managing just 28 minutes over two appearances.

However, the club have been keen to show Denis off in training:

Emery talked in February about why Denis hasn’t been playing much since swapping the Camp Nou for the Emirates Stadium

“He is working every day, improving and knowing us. My philosophy is that adaptation needs time and after, little-by-little he will grow confidence and know his teammates in training and after playing matches.”

Source | Evening Standard

Former Arsenal defender and television pundit Lee Dixon put it a bit more bluntly:

“There’s a reason why he’s not playing every week. We can all say he should be playing, but ultimately he’s not quite at the level he needs to be,” he said.

“This league’s brutal, you can’t be messing about with it physically, you can’t be messing about mentally. You have to be bang on. If he’s not quite on something, then the manager will see that and that’s probably why he’s not playing.”

Source | Evening Standard

Denis’s lack of game time has predictably brought a report that Arsenal want to send him back to Barca because Emery thinks he’s struggling with the demands of Premier League football. However, it’s worth noting that the tabloid where the report originates from is not known for it’s reliability.

The midfielder has taken to social media with a post that’s viewed as a response to that report:

Even so it’s not looking good for Denis at Arsenal. The Gunners do have the option to make the move permanent but that looks unlikely given his lack of involvement. It’s also difficult to see why Denis would stay when the only reason he left Barca was to play football.

Huddersfield Town v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Of course there’s still time left for Denis to make an impression. Arsenal have eight Premier League games remaining and are in the midst of a tight race to finish in the top four, along with Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea.

The club have been knocked out of the FA Cup and the League Cup but are into the quarter-finals of the Europe League, where they will take on Napoli.

The only problem is that with plenty still to play for Emery will want to field his strongest XI, and that does not seem to include Denis at the moment.

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