On January 17 Barcelona lost 1-0 to Espanyol in the Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg. One of the worst games in Ernesto Valverde's tenure this season. One player was singled out it seems. That was Denis Suarez.
Until this date, the Galician appeared in 30 of the last 32 squads that Valverde selected. 94 per cent of the games. After that date Denis has been left out of 8 squads from 13, plus another one for injury. The four times he has been named in the squad, he has not played a single minute.
Between November 26 and December 10, Denis played in five games in a row - three starts, completing the 90 twice. He was also involved from the start against Getafe on September 16 and Eibar on October 1.
From 94% to 38% in one fell swoop
Here are the various reasons he might be being ostracised:
- Valverde has decided he's not the profile that Barcelona need on the pitch. Rakitic, Iniesta, Busquets and Coutinho or Paulinho are the four midfielders selected. The Ant has Andre Gomes to come after that too, and he relies on him despite fan feeling towards the Portuguese.
- Inconsistency. Denis Suárez is not a player who constantly offers something in a match. He has good ball circulation skills but is far from the box-to-box character that it seems the coach likes.
- Coutinho's arrival. The former Liverpool player is a star name and arrived as a club record signing. Beyond the obligation for Valverde to lay him, the trith is that the Brazilian is improving and looks good, with a similar style to Denis, making it hard for the Galician to find a space.
They are just ideas and Valverde knows the true reason, but, certainly there is a problem for Denis.