star Federico Valverde says he snubbed the chance to join because he ‘never wanted to go to ’.
, but instead chose to sign for Real from Penarol.
The call has proven to be the right one, with the Uruguay international going onto make 221 appearances for Los Blancos so far, winning many pieces of silverware including two La Liga titles and the .
It could have been very different had the midfielder ended up at Arsenal, and he’s now revealed why that never materialised despite so many around him insisting he should go to the Premier League.
‘If you Google me, you will see stories about how I almost went to Arsenal when I was 16. That’s maybe half-true,’ the 25-year-old wrote in his column for .
‘It’s nothing against Arsenal, but I never wanted to go to England. At that time, the business side of football took over.
‘Certain people were telling me, “Who wouldn’t want to go play for Arsenal? You want to stay here in Uruguay? That’s crazy!”. What they were really saying under their breath was, “We can all make a lot of money if you go”.
‘You realise that your life is not your own in football. Especially at a young age, you feel more like a hostage. Even your family becomes a hostage. Football is an escape to a better life, especially for us in South America, and the vultures know that.
‘They put the pressure on you in a “nice” way. “Damn, Fede, if you go to Arsenal, you’ll have a nice bed and a shower that stays warm for 30, 40 minutes! Who wouldn’t want that life?”.
‘They sent me on trial to London for a week, and I just wasn’t comfortable. If you only think of material things, it sounds great. But we are not robots.
‘The reality was that my family couldn’t come to London with me. I’d have to live alone, not speaking the language, at 16-years-old. For every one kid who succeeds in moving overseas, you don’t see the 100 who fail.’
While a big miss for Arsenal, one can fully understand Valverde’s decision and and overall things certainly worked out for the best for the player.
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