Denis Suarez has agreed a loan move to Arsenal until the end of the season. Suarez moves from Barcelona after he extended his contract at the Camp Nou until 2021 on Wednesday.
Arsenal confirmed the news on Thursday:
Barcelona provided further details via the club's official website: "FC Barcelona have also agreed a loan deal for Suarez with Arsenal for the remainder of the 2018/19 season. The Premier League club will pay the player's salary during this time, and the agreement includes an option to buy."
The Catalan giants initially jumped the gun on announcing Suarez's move. They posted a statement on Wednesday that was then deleted, before being reposted on Thursday when Arsenal confirmed the signing.
Football.London's James Benge noted Arsenal have paid a loan fee worth £2 million, while it will cost £18 million should the Premier League side exercise the option to buy.
Suarez is the latest in a long line of Spanish imports to join the Gunners, with more technically gifted midfielders proving particularly successful:
Similar can be expected of Suarez, who can play anywhere across the attacking areas of midfield. Sport journalist Albert Roge recently told Charles Watts of Football.London where Suarez fits best: "His best position is that of playmaker, behind a striker, with freedom of movement. He is very creative but is not great when it comes to defending. If he has freedom, he can hurt the opposition."
Yet Suarez may suit Arsenal better on the flanks, with some noting the obvious need for a skilled player in wide areas:
Suarez is the Gunners' first signing of the January transfer window and gives head coach Unai Emery another versatile option for the attacking areas of midfield.
The 25-year-old has struggled since returning to the Camp Nou in 2016. However, Emery is familiar with the player, having worked with him at Sevilla, where Suarez often played wide.
Links between Suarez and Arsenal intensified when Emery talked up the Spaniard after the Gunners beat Blackpool 3-0 away in the FA Cup third round:
Emery's words followed reports Arsenal had been discussing a deal with the Blaugrana:
Landing Suarez represents smart business for the Gunners amid a host of questions about their options at the tip of midfield. Many of those questions stem from Aaron Ramsey's being told he can leave on a free transfer.
The Wales international, who is technically outstanding and possesses a keen eye for goal, will join Serie A giants Juventus in the summer.
Ozil's issues are brought into sharper focus by the injury-enforced absence of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenia international has been out since before Christmas with a foot problem.
Mkhitaryan's absence combined with Ozil's and Ramsey's moves in and out of the team has forced Alex Iwobi to carry the creative burden. The quick-footed 22-year-old has improved under Emery and will be boosted by the arrival of Suarez.
While he couldn't make the grade during a second spell with Barca, Suarez still has the right qualities to be a hit at Arsenal. Specifically, his close control, trickery and intelligence will fit the expressive brand of football the Gunners still play on Emery's watch.
He can thread defence-splitting passes between the lines and drift into shooting opportunities off the flanks. Arsenal need help out wide with Emery often liking to deploy a fluid trio behind a lone striker in his 4-2-3-1 formation.
Suarez can fill in for Mkhitaryan or provide Emery with an alternative to Ramsey and Ozil in the No. 10 role. He was outstanding for Villarreal during the 2015/16 season, helping the Yellow Submarine reach the UEFA Europa League final and supplying 13 assists in all competitions.
While he hasn't matched this form since, Suarez will prove a clever bargain if Emery gets him back on track.