Maya Yoshida has insisted he made the ‘right choice’ leaving Southampton when he did.
Yoshida first departed Southampton for Sampdoria on loan in the January transfer window before moving to the Italian club on a permanent basis on a free transfer in September that year.
It brought an end to an eight-year spell with the Saints after originally joining them from VVV-Venlo in a £2.52m deal back in 2012.
He went on to make 194 appearances for the club in that time, finishing as a runner up in the EFL Cup in 2016/17.
He was a regular under several successive managers but found himself out of favour under Ralph Hassenhuttl, something that eventually led to his departure.
That’s a decision he does not regret, even if he admits he didn’t know a thing about Serie A before he moved.
“Honestly, I didn’t know anything,” he told Goal Italia.
“Joking aside, Serie A is one of the main European leagues, and then the big teams participate in the Champions League, so I knew the main players.
“But before coming here, I called my former Southampton team-mate Gabbiadini to get some information.
“I wasn’t having a good time at the time, I wasn’t playing much, and the new coach at Southampton had suggested he wanted to focus on young players. So I took this opportunity, and I must say that I made the right choice.”
Despite things ending on a slightly negative note for Yoshida, he insists he has nothing but positive memories of the club.
He arguably played for them during one of their more successful periods in which they have established themselves as a Premier League side and even reached the EFL Cup final.
He was a big part of that, regularly featuring under managers such as Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman, who went on to manage PSG and Barcelona, respectively.
Working with big-name managers like that was a big boost for the Japanese international, who was more than grateful for the experience.
“I still remember my entrance at the Emirates Stadium in the league debut, the noise of the stadium, the charge of the fans, the spectacular environment, everything,” he added.
“It’s like I’m still reliving it today, chilling. The only thing missing was the emotion of scoring, because the game ended 0-0, but apart from that, everything was great.
“I have only positive memories of my experience in England, because I was able to play alongside great champions like those you mentioned, but also against great opponents who allowed me to improve.
“Like Mr. Pochettino and Mr. Koeman, who have been fundamental for my growth and for my acclimatisation. They are truly great coaches, each with their own mentality and tactics, but both have given me a lot.”