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It's no secret Denis Suárez has the skills and talent to help Barça extend its winning cycle for years to come. | MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

While Denis Suárez may still be unfamiliar to some Barça fans in the wake of back-to-back matches in which he contributed to a pair of crucial Blaugrana triumphs — he scored three goals over a five-day span, one in La Liga and two in the Copa del Rey — to many, especially those who are more well-versed in the minutia of Spanish football, the 23-year-old, lanky midfielder who can sprint and cut like a springbok is simply blossoming into the player he had long been projected to become.

Denis Suárez, who is not related to his equally-surnamed teammate Luis Suárez, and whom many refer to simply as Denis, had not yet scored this season through his first 23 official appearances until Sunday’s 4–0 road victory at Eibar (Highlights, Match Report) in which he came on for the injured Sergio Busquets in the 10th minute and opened the scoring with a long-range blast in the 31st.

 

Fast-forward to Thursday night against Real Sociedad, when Denis added two more goals to his tally — again opening the scoring, this time in the 17th, before delivering a parting shot in the 82nd that set Barça’s Copa del Rey semifinal berth into stone and touched off a frenzy at Camp Nou. (Highlights, Match Report).

Now, having suddenly burst from a stat-page footnote into the bold-faced headlines amidst Barça’s sterling run of recent form, it’s worth pointing out that Denis’s breakout week was neither anticipated nor a mid-season revelation.

Denis, who was FC Barcelona’s first signing of last summer’s transfer period, is nearing the summit of a steady, upward climb that began years ago in Galicia, Spain, where he was born and raised, and began his youth football career, eventually joining the youth academy of Celta Vigo in 2009 at the age of 15.

But despite catching the eye of Manchester City and joining the English club in 2011, he flew under the radar there for two years, garnering far greater attention while putting in a series of exceptional performances for Spain’s Under-17, -18, and-19 national teams. It soon became evident that the talented Denis was a top prospect-in-the-making.

Having been picked up on Barça’s radar, the Catalan club reeled him back to Spain in 2013, when Denis joined Barça B. By that point, he had already been identified by the club as a player whose passing and play-making ability fit the mold of its attacking, possession-based style of play. Now, Barça surmised, they could complete the midfielder’s training and watch him flourish.

 

He opened plenty of eyes while playing for Barça B in the 2013/14 season, but, barely 20-years-old and with his path to the first team blocked by the likes of Xavi HernándezAndrés Iniesta, and a flock of other experienced midfielders, Denis was sent out on loan until a time came when he could come back and make an impact on the first team.

Part of the deal that brought Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla to Barça, Denis first went to the Andalusian club, where he made 31 senior team appearances in the 2014/15 season. When the loan expired at the end of the season, however, Villarreal bought his contract — Barça retained a buyback option — and Denis moved to Castellón, where he played in 33 games and scored four goals.

Then, less than a month into the off-season, in the summer of 2016, FC Barcelona felt the time had come to bring Denis back to the Catalan capital. Barça paid €3.25m to exercise the buyback option, signing him to a new four-year deal with a €50m buyout clause.


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