When the winter transfer window opened, Arsenal fans were eager to see if new boss Unai Emery would approach the mid-season window with the same alacrity as he did in the summer, which saw the acquisitions of impact players like Lucas Torreira and Bernd Leno. As Arsenal approached the halfway point in the season, Aaron Ramsey already had one foot out of the door for Juventus after contract talks disintegrated, and the Gunners attack was showing how desperately they needed a pacy winger. The defense had also lost Rob Holding for the season and had been scrambling to find some solidity during an exhausting December stretch.
With so many obvious needs to address, Arsenal fans were hopeful for the kinds of reinforcements that would show that Emery was going to take the reigns and help keep the Gunners competitive across multiple fronts.
Instead, the Gunners got Denis Suarez.
After Emery convinced the club to sign him, the announcement of the Barcelona outcast’s loan in January was met with a lukewarm reception. The rationale that he would become a solid rotation player to make Ramsey’s inevitable departure slightly less painful was, at the very least, digestible. After playing under Emery at Sevilla in 2014, Suarez’s familiarity with the Arsenal manager was the major selling point. Like most new managers, it was always a matter of “when,” not “if,” Emery would look to bring in players he had managed before, and from a managerial standpoint, it is a prudent and sensible decision.
But since Suarez’s acquisition, there has been little to no evidence that he has a place on the Gunners’ roster. Despite being loaned to Arsenal in January, the midfielder has managed to play all of 67 minutes in the Premier League and 28 minutes in the Europa League with zero goals, zero assists, and zero shots to his name. To call Suarez’s Arsenal loan spell a poor one would be kind. By all accounts, it has been an unmitigated failure, one that has brought more questions than answers as Suarez has failed to make any sort of impact for the Gunners as well as criticism toward Emery.
Compounding the failure has been the late-season success of Aaron Ramsey, who has been making his departure all the more painful by putting in impressive shifts for the Gunners and posting bittersweet social media posts about Arsenal as his time at the Emirates draws to a close.
Accounts off the pitch have done little to help matters. While Arsenal and Suarez’s agent have reported that a nagging groin injury has been keeping the Spaniard off the team sheet, other media outlets paint a different picture. While some are reporting that the club would be ending the loan early and sending Suarez back to Barcelona before the season is officially out, others say that he is struggling to adapt to life in England and is eager to end his disastrous loan. Then there are the reports that claim that he is simply not good enough in training to merit meaningful minutes.
So, what gives?
With so many conflicting reports, it is tough to say what it actually going on, but one thing is certain - Suarez is not the player that Arsenal need, nor does he appear to be the player that Arsenal want. Even the most optimistic of Arsenal fans can see that there was a reason that Barcelona was so eager to loan him out. After featuring for the La Liga side only twice domestically this season, his stint at Arsenal has been further evidence of his reported lack of quality.
Not every transfer can be a smashing success, but very rarely is a transfer as unproductive as Suarez’s has been. While there are still many important matches left in the Premier League and the Europa League for the Barcelona player to feature, Suarez’s tenure appears to be ending with the same indifference with which it began. We would all love to be proven wrong, and who knows what will transpire over the next month and a half? Barring a miraculous stretch of play, though, odds are that the Suarez experiment will end with little fruit to bear, criticism for the powers that be for green lighting the puzzling move, and a bitter taste in the mouths of Arsenal fans.