Lucas Torreira says a surprise phone call from Unai Emery on the eve of the World Cup helped him to focus on his duties with Uruguay safe in the knowledge his move from Sampdoria to Arsenal would go ahead.
Despite strong speculation linking him with a move to the Emirates, the midfielder embarked on his country’s pre-tournament training camp with negotiations over his future ongoing.
He admits that interest from the Gunners came as something of a surprise because he’d initially been expecting to make a move to another club in Italy.
“At the end of my last season at Sampdoria there were lots of teams being talked about,’ the 22-year-old told Arsenal Media.
“I never imagined coming here to England because it was mainly Italian clubs being mentioned.
“Before I left for the World Cup I got a call from the coach which was a massive surprise for me.
“I knew that I had earned it because of all my hard work and everything that I had done. That phone call made me a happy man.
“It allowed me to relax too because it allowed me to focus all my attention on the national team and the World Cup.
“I’m so proud to be part of such an important team and it gives me a lot of motivation to keep improving, to keep developing and to give everything I have for the team.”
Torreira says he’s also thankful for the fact he’s able to communicate in his native tongue with both Emery and the other Spanish speaking coaches. While the midfielder is trying to learn English, something that his boss praised recently, it still helps that instructions and conversations can be relayed clearly.
That said, it’s not just the language that he’s adapting to. There’s also a heavy fixture schedule that includes domestic, European and international games.
“It hasn’t been easy though: there’s the language and the issue of communicating,” he went on.
“I’m lucky because the coach is Spanish and the coaching staff are too, so that makes things easier for me because they can explain things in Spanish to me.
“It’s also not been easy to adapt to the football here: the intensity, the tempo and quality of games
“At Sampdoria I had been used to playing in Serie A and Coppa Italia, whereas now I’m involved in four competitions here as well as the national team.
“It’s very demanding but I try to prepare myself the best I can to ensure that I’m up to the challenge.”
It’s fair to say he’s been doing a very good job at that so far.