Denis Suarez believes he could have earned a regular role had he stayed at Manchester City, but has no regrets at having taken the decision to head for Barcelona in 2013 and take in “brutal” training sessions alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.
Those at the Etihad Stadium bought into the potential of a ball-playing midfielder when acquiring him from Celta Vigo in 2011.
Just two competitive appearances were taken in for City before heading home to link up with Barca.
A further switch to Villarreal was required before a first-team door opened at Camp Nou and Suarez was returned to Catalunya to form part of a star-studded squad.
Things have not played out as planned from that point, with a forgettable loan spell at Arsenal taken in before returning to Celta on a permanent basis, but the 26-year-old believes he made the right career calls.
Suarez told The Athletic: “I was at City for two years. They wanted me to renew but I preferred to go to Barcelona. Nobody knows what would have happened.
“Maybe if I had stayed, I would be playing regularly there, but I took that decision to go to Barcelona and it was the right one for me because I played a lot of games for their first team.
“And to train with Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta… brutal. Leo is the best. Andres is an example for me. I couldn’t wait to learn from them and play with them, Messi trains how he plays. He loves to win: in every session, he has to win.
“But at City, I trained with David Silva and he is right up there. You guys in England fully appreciate Silva’s brilliance but in Spain I am not sure everyone realises how amazing he has been. Silva has reached the heights of Xavi and Iniesta. I cannot speak with authority about City’s entire history but Silva has, without question, been City’s best player for the past decade.”
Injury issues have stunted Suarez’s progress in recent years, but he has found form again at Celta and could force his way back into contention for international recognition now that Euro 2020 has been pushed back 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He added: “Of course it helps me personally. Obviously!
“My priority now is to play football regularly and compete for a place in the Spanish national team. I feel Celta is a good place for me to do that. I have returned home because the more games I play, the better chance I have.
“This season I had some ankle problems. But I have had phases where I am playing a lot, creating chances, in the top few for definitive passes. That is what I want to show.”