Nacho Monreal decided to return to Spain after six and a half years in England, signing a two-year contract with Real Sociedad in August 2019. The Spaniard has been open about wanting to play in LaLiga Santander again, but after coming to the club in May 2018 Unai Emery made it clear that he didn’t want to lose his defender. This only postponed Monreal’s decision to return to his home country and his family. He reveals that once his mind was made up he started following Real and wanted them to win.
So far Monreal is enjoying being back and has had a good start at the club, managing to score against Atletico Madrid in what ended up being Real Sociedad’s 2-0 victory at Anoeta Stadium.
When talking about his exit from the English club Monreal says that his age played a big role in his decision to leave. Although he was still a starter with the Gunners at the age of 33, he knew that that would change quickly and that if he did not leave now he would be made to leave sooner or later. He decided that leaving Arsenal during this summer transfer window would be good timing for both sides.
But the Spanish defender, who played for the Gunners for a long period of time despite his strong ties to Spain, is still often asked to comment on his time at the Emirates Stadium. Saying that he looks back on that period of his life with love, he adds that the time spent there was one of the best experiences of his life, especially being lucky enough to play along many talented players: Lacazette, Aubameyang, Santi Cazorla, Petr Cech and more. When asked to single out the best player he had had the opportunity to play with there, he says it was former Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez:
“ […] Alexis, he is a different player. After seeing him train for a minute you see what kind of a player he is. I have felt privileged putting my boots next to him.”