PREMIER LEAGUE

Denis Suárez recalls Arsenal loan spell: "I was only fit for one week"

Denis Suárez talked openly about the excruciating physical pain that restricted him to just six substitute outings during last season's loan stint with Arsenal.

I was only fit for one week - Denis Suarez opens up on loan spell with Arsenal

Celta Vigo midfielder Denis Suárez has revealed that his brief spell at Arsenal was marred by persistent fitness problems. The 26-year-old made just six competitive appearances for the Gunners during his five-month stint at Emirates Stadium in 2018-19, each of those coming as a substitute. Suárez returned to parent club Barcelona and was then sold to boyhood side Celta, where he has featured 20 times in LaLiga to date this season. Opening up about his disappointing time in England, Suárez explained he never fully recovered from an injury sustained early in his loan spell that left him unable to even pass the ball.

Denis Suárez's painful Arsenal experience

"Obviously it was a bad loan because I did not play," he told The Athletic. "But there were circumstances which I would like the fans to understand. I played in my first game against Manchester City and then 10 days later I got injured against BATE in the Europa League. I had too much pain in my groin. I did tests and scans and nothing was in my groin, but there was a big oedema around the pubic bone. I had sharp pain when I ran, when I shot, when I passed. It was so difficult. I was at something like 30 per cent of my fitness."

Asked if he felt 100 per cent at any point, Suárez replied: "The first week., that's all. I felt it getting worse. After the match against BATE, I had incredible pain.  Every movement, every change of direction, every shot. I tried to train through the pain. It became unsustainable. I was not in a state to play at my best.  Unai [Emery] could not play me as he knew I was not even near 50 per cent. People started asking, 'What's going on with Denis? He has arrived but he isn't playing. He is on the bench, he plays 15 minutes here or there.' But I was in a lot of pain. At half-time during games, when the other substitutes went out to do the main drills on the pitch, I was in the dressing room doing a ton of different exercises so the injury would give me less pain instead of being with the rest of them."

"I really wanted it to work out at Arsenal" - Suárez

Suárez rejected permanent offers elsewhere to join Arsenal on loan and was keen to pen a long-term deal with the Premier League side. "I wanted Arsenal to sign me but the club were not able to at that time," he said. "Instead, they said, 'Come here, get the continuity, then when you have a year remaining on your contract, we can sign you.' So, okay, it sounded good. The truth is I rejected other teams: Real Betis, Sevilla, AC Milan all wanted me. I took the risk of going on a loan. I could have signed for those other clubs on a four- or five-year deal. That's how much I wanted it to work at Arsenal. So people don't know fully what happened."

He also feels regret that he was unable to repay the faith shown in him by Emery and head of football Raúl Sanllehi. "I was the signing of Raúl and Unai and I wanted to prove myself and repay them," he added. "Nobody wanted to play more than me, but the situation was unsustainable.  I wanted to live up to their expectations. I am sorry because I do not think Arsenal supporters truly understand the situation I was experiencing. They didn't see me play, so it is hard to evaluate the loan."