Denis Suarez deserves more minutes at Barcelona
Barcelona is currently invincible in La Liga. Having gone 39 matches unbeaten, Blaugrana broke the record for the longest undefeated streak in Spain's top division, previously set by Real Sociedad between 1979-80. A combination of exceptional squad depth and manager Ernesto Valverde's ability to use all available weapons mean this season's title is firmly in Barca's grip.
There are players at the Nou Camp, however, who deserve more chances to impress. Denis Suarez tops that list.
Suarez swapped Manchester City for Barcelona in 2013. He was immediately sent to the B team to play in the Segunda Division. After a successful spell with Blaugrana's youngsters, he was loaned out to Sevilla. Although Suarez impressed with Los Nervionenses, Barca soon sold him to Villareal.
A year later, Barcelona activated a buy-back clause to re-sign Suarez. His career has gradually deteriorated since, though. After making 26 La Liga appearances last season under Luis Enrique, the Spanish midfielder has featured only 12 times since August.
Despite lacking sufficient game-time, Suarez introduced himself to the footballing world last September. He came on as a substitute with Barca 1-0 down away to Getafe. Minutes later, he scored the equalizer. His excellent positional play also helped in Paulinho's winner, dragging defenders out of the Brazilian’s path.
In the next game, Suarez was handed the full ninety minutes at home to Eibar. Playing out of his natural position on the left wing, he scored and grabbed an assist. The Spaniard thrived on the opportunity to impress coach Valverde. His composure also helped Blaugrana launch several attacks.
Suarez was benched in the following match, given a mere ten minutes to make an impact. He had a bigger effect against Las Palmas at the beginning of October, registering an assist and seeing out the contest. Since then, however, his chances have been limited, earning only one full game.
Suarez's start to March was a disaster. He picked up an injury in the Catalan derby against Espanyol, ruling him out for three weeks. It was only his third start in the calendar year.
However, Suarez has since returned with a bang.
Despite not having played for several months, Denis Suárez proved Ernesto Valverde wrong. He came on as a sub and immediately had impact on the game. He assisted Suárez and made room for Messi to score the equalizer. https://t.co/jenrHQ7vc7
Suarez showed his credentials as a top quality midfielder at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan recently. Despite only receiving a 15-minute cameo, he helped Barcelona rescue a 2-2 draw against Sevilla. Valverde should place more trust in the 24-year-old.
After the Sevilla encounter, Suarez told reporters:
It’s a happy day as we got a draw in the final minutes and I’m happy to return after two or three months and after injury. I’m happy to come back and I hope I can help more between now and the end of the season. I’m happy to participate again after so much time and I want to keep doing so, playing more and earning myself a place in this team.
During a Champions League match against Sporting CP this season, Suarez arguably delivered the best performance on the pitch. It once seemed he wouldn't cut it in Barca's starting eleven, but his recent displays prove otherwise.
The key question now: where does Suarez rank among Barcelona's midfielders?
Ivan Rakitic is the club's engine. Andres Iniesta’s illustrious Barcelona career is drawing to a close. The maestro won't play week in, week out. Suarez, meanwhile, is hitting his peak years. His superb technique, intelligence on the ball, and ability to play excellent short passes shouldn't be ignored. Although he will never reach the same heights as Xavi or Iniesta, he's a better player than both Andre Gomes and Paulinho.
Valverde should not take Denis Suarez for granted, or Barcelona will suffer.