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Denis Suarez reflects on 'bittersweet' Barca spell as Messi reunion looms

14:00 GMT+3 07/11/2019
Denis Suarez Lionel Messi
The Celta Vigo star will play at Camp Nou for the first time since leaving the Blaugrana in a vital clash for both sides in La Liga

Denis Suarez admits that he is looking forward to Saturday's reunion with Barcelona and Lionel Messi following his "bittersweet" two-and-a-half years at Camp Nou. 

The 25-year-old midfielder joined Barca from Villarreal in the summer of 2016, having previously been sold by the Catalans to Sevilla without making his senior debut as part of the deal that brought Ivan Rakitic to the Blaugrana.

But despite a promising start, Suarez failed to hold down a regular spot in the Barca midfield and left in January 2019 for an injury-blighted loan spell with Arsenal. 

This summer saw him move back to boyhood club Celta Vigo, where he had previously made his debut with the Galicians' B team at the age of just 16.

Now Suarez returns to Camp Nou for the first time since leaving Barca, and he is gearing up for an emotional afternoon. 

"This is not just another game. It will be very special for me to come back to Barcelona and play against my ex-team-mates," he explained to Goal. 

"But we will go there to win as we always do, even if the results don't come, we go to Barcelona needing the three points and we will try to win. 

"How would I describe my time at Barca? As bittersweet, maybe. I had great times, normal and bad ones.

"I took away with me the experience of having been at the best club in the world, I won titles with Barcelona, I competed to be in the starting XI of a side that has been the best in the world, I was in a time when there was the greatest player of all-time in my position, [Andres] Iniesta. 

"It is not easy but it was a moment that has now come to a close."

One of the players that is likely to be lining up on the opposite side of the pitch is Messi, a man that Suarez knows only too well from their time together in Catalunya. 

And despite their new status as rivals, the midfielder could not help but admire the Barca and Argentina captain. 

"Every day he comes up with something new, every day he takes you by surprise, whatever game you are watching," he said when asked if he had the key to stopping Leo. 

"We will have to play a great game, that's all we can do. And hopefully they won't have their best day in front of goal! I do think you can go there and get a result, Celta have done so over the past few years." 

Should things go to plan, though, any goal celebration from Suarez is likely to be muted. 

"I respect Barcelona a lot and if I score I will be happy but I will not be celebrating euphorically because that wouldn't make any sense," he added.

Barca go into Saturday's clash at the top of La Liga, albeit only by virtue of goal difference over Real Madrid and Real Sociedad; while Celta languish in 18th, two points shy of safety after 12 games.