Unai Emery and Denis Suarez have been reunited at Arsenal, so we caught up with the head coach to find out more.
In an exclusive interview, Unai explains how he found out about the Spanish midfielder, Denis’ long-standing connection with our club, and what he’s like away from the pitch.
Unai, when did you first know about Denis Suarez?
When I was in Sevilla, Monchi - the sporting director - spoke about the possibility of bringing Denis Suarez to us. He started to play in Galicia in Spain, with Celta Vigo, but he was very young and signed at Manchester City. He played in their academy and I didn’t know him. Monchi spoke about him to me, about his qualities, the possibility to improve a lot with us at Sevilla. He came and played a lot of matches in one season with us. He helped us with his quality, and then he decided to go to Villarreal to continue improving. Then he arrived at Barcelona and played there.
How much has Denis improved since you brought him to Sevilla?
After Sevilla, he played at Villarreal and played in the Europa League semi-final against Liverpool, when they won against them. His way was giving him the possibility to play at Barcelona. But to play in the first XI there is very difficult. He played sometimes, but less than he wanted, and he helped them to win the Spanish league, and also played in the Champions League. He has experience and I want to use his experience and his quality here with us. It’s a big challenge for him to play here and continue improving.
Luis Enrique said that Denis is ‘loved by his teammates’ for his work without the ball. Do you agree?
He works every day with a very big ambition to improve, because he loves football. He’s usually speaking about football and when he was in Spain he said to us, and I read in the newspapers, that he was watching Arsenal matches when Arsenal were playing with Thierry Henry and the Invincible players. His decision to come here is because he thinks Arsenal is a big club.
Some people have compared Denis to Andres Iniesta. How are they similar?
I don’t think it’s good to do comparisons between players. He has his personality and also, I think it’s not good to give him pressure in this comparison.
What can you tell us about Denis’ personality away from the pitch?
He’s a very good person and a very straightforward person. My relationship with the players first is like a player, professional, and after is like a person.
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