Granero: Juan Mata convinced me to join QPR

The Spanish midfielder has revealed his move to Loftus Road was encouraged by his ex-Real Madrid team-mate but says he did always want to test himself in English football
Esteban Granero has revealed his summer move to QPR was influenced by talking with Chelsea star Juan Mata.

The 25-year-old left Real Madrid for the Loftus Road outfit on a four-year deal in August, costing Mark Hughes' side a reported £9 million.

Granero, who has been good friends with Mata since they were both in Real Madrid's academy together, told the Sunday Telegraph: “He encouraged me to come here and had good words to say about Queens Park Rangers.

“He’s so talented and clever and he’s one of my favourite footballers and a good friend of mine.

“We were in the academy at Real Madrid together, with the national team academy, and now we live in the same city and we’ve always wanted to do that.

“He’s brilliant — wherever he goes he’s brilliant. He has the style. When he went from Castilla [Real Madrid reserves] to Valencia he was very young, there were many older players and it looked difficult for him. And he passed over them straight away. He goes to Chelsea — 10 minutes and he scores!”

Since joining QPR on transfer deadline day, Granero has made five first-team appearances, scoring once against West Brom on October 6.

“I have wanted to play in England since I was a child,” he continued. “Football was born here and they feel this sport in a way that they don’t feel anywhere else. Not in Spain.

“In Spain football is great, they have good players but the sport is not the same as here in England.

"I want to compete against myself — and the way to do that is to set yourself a great challenge. This [QPR] is a perfect challenge for me — this team, this club, this league, this country.

“It’s a perfect fit from my point of view and with a big challenge like that I was always going to be happy.”