The Real Sociedad defender on topping the La Liga table, Arteta, Wenger and the ‘shock’ early morning call that took him to north London

“I don’t know if he got a commission or something,” Nacho Monreal says and starts laughing again. “I woke up one morning to a call from Santi [Cazorla] asking me if I wanted to join. Imagine it: I was in shock, only just awake, not really with it. And by that night, I was an Arsenal player. I reckon the club said: ‘Santi, speak to Nacho: see what he thinks.’”

It was January 2013, deadline day, and what he thought, insofar as he had time to think anything, was that this was a one-off – an opportunity he couldn’t let pass by. As for Cazorla, if he got a commission it was worth it. A supposedly short-term solution, not planning to go anywhere that morning, Monreal spent seven seasons in London, played over 250 games and won three FA Cups.

Related: Milan sweat on Ibrahimovic injury after his double earns leaders win at Napoli

I can concentrate on the positive things. If you can’t handle the pressure, it can swallow you

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