Arsenal signed Nacho Monreal from Málaga in January 2013 and in the last summer window he left the Gunners for Real Sociedad.
Mundo Deportivo have sat down for a lengthy interview with the left-back, which is published in today’s Gipuzkoa edition of the newspaper.
When the 33-year-old moved to the Emirates, he was reunited with his former Málaga teammate Santi Cazorla and the defender explained how quickly the north London club sealed his transfer.
“January 31st, 2013. I had been called by Arsenal to ask me if I wanted to go there. That day in the morning I was training with Malaga and 10 hours later I was signing with Arsenal. Football is very complicated sometimes, and sometimes very simple and fast,” he said.
When quizzed if he was right to join the Premier League side, Monreal responded: “Yes, no doubt. I was very happy in Malaga. But the club already had financial needs and problems with the sheik. I was the third to go after Cazorla and Rondón.”
“Besides, When Arsenal calls, you don’t think about it. I said yes immediately.”
“The beginning was difficult. I was very shy, new country, new language, new culture, players I didn’t know… It became very hard. I suffered the first 12 months.
“But I acclimatised to the city, the club and English football and my memories are wonderful. Even being captain of Arsenal. A pride.”
Monreal featured regularly under Unai Emery last season and even started in the first three games for the English side this term. He had a year left on his contract at Arsenal when he left them for Sociedad in the final days of the European window.
Apart from Sociedad, Athletic Club Bilbao also tried to sign the fullback and when explaining why the deal to join the Basque club never materialised, Monreal revealed why he left Arsenal.
“They [Athletic] have come for me at some point, but much less than what you would have read. We never agreed on all three parts. In this case with the Real, it did happen,” the Sociedad player explained.
“Although I was very comfortable in Arsenal, with Emery and in London, I noticed that this cycle was coming to an end.
“This opportunity arose to come to a good team, with some goals and a way of playing that I liked. And there is also the family, which is now closer. They were many years away from home. You prioritise other kinds of things.
“I consider myself a competitive player. I want to keep winning and competing. And Real fits me in that goal. Then, having the family close and being able to enjoy friends again helps.”