Barcelona's Denis Suarez hopes to 'take advantage' of Andres Iniesta departure
BEAVERTON, Oregon -- Denis Suarez admitted that this season could make or break his Barcelona career as the La Liga champions kicked off their preseason tour of the United States on Wednesday.
Barca trained at Nike's headquarters after landing in Portland on Tuesday, with Denis one of the senior members of the travelling party.
The midfielder rejoined the club from Villarreal in 2016 but has struggled for minutes in the last two seasons, first under Luis Enrique and then with Ernesto Valverde.
However, with Andres Iniesta moving to Japan and Paulinho returning to China, there could be an opening for him to finally establish himself in the first team.
"I'm really looking forward to the new season and hopeful that it will be the year when I definitively take that step forward and play much more than in previous years," he said.
"That's the sensation I have every season, but perhaps more than ever this year. Some important players have left the club, above all in my position, and I want to take advantage of those absences.
"[Iniesta's] departure is huge for us. I don't intend to compare myself with him, but it's true we have some similar characteristics. Now he's gone, I hope to take advantage of the situation and play more minutes."
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and the rest of Barca's players that took part in the World Cup, with the exception for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, will not join up with the squad in the U.S.
The majority of the players, therefore, have been pooled from Barca B, while some of the first team players stateside, such as Andre Gomes, Rafinha and Aleix Vidal, have been deemed transferable this summer.
Denis, now 24, is adamant that he will not be one of the players leaving, though, as the Catalan club look to trim down their squad following the signings of Arthur Melo, Clement Lenglet and Malcom.
"I've spoken with [Valverde] and he knows that my intention is to stay," he added. "His intention is that I stay, too. I'm preparing for the season in the best way possible and I will try to convince him that I can play from the off.
"He wants me to take a step forward this year. I know what I have to give and I think I have the ability to play a lot more minutes, a lot more than I've played in my first two years with the first team and I hope that will be the case."
Barca, who will be joined by new €41 million signing Malcom later on Wednesday, will train in Beaverton again on Thursday before travelling to Los Angeles, where they will play Tottenham at the Rose Bowl in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.
The women's team, who trained before the men at Nike's HQ, are also on the tour and will fly to L.A with them this week for a friendly against SoCal FC.
To celebrate the club's first-ever mixed tour, the two teams posed together in front of the Barca badge along with president Josep Maria Bartomeu and sporting director Eric Abidal.