'I was behind Xavi and Guardiola' - Arteta reveals why he left Barcelona

The Arsenal midfielder reveals why he decided to leave Catalonia early in his career, plus the Premier League's top Spaniards have their say on who should win the Ballon d'Or
Mikel Arteta says he left Barcelona early in his career because he was behind Pep Guardiola and Xavi in the club's pecking order.

The Arsenal midfielder left the Nou Camp as a 17-year-old after receiving a call from Paris Saint-Germain. He spent two years in France, before enjoying a spell with Rangers in the Scottish Premier League and a return to Spain with Real Sociedad.

Arteta told AS: "I was playing in Barcelona and Guardiola and Xavi were ahead of me; it was a complicated situation. By that time I was 17 and Luis Fernandez called me from PSG to sign me. The next day I was already flying to Paris."

The 30-year-old moved to Everton in 2005 and fell in love with the English game, becoming one of the Premier League's most consistent performers over the next seven years.

"Premier League and La Liga are different between them. Each one has its good and bad things. An unquestionable Premier League advantage is the great atmosphere you live in every single game, no matter who you are playing against."

Meanwhile, a more recent Spanish import into the Premier League is QPR's Esteban Granero. The former Real Madrid man says he is finding the transition from Spain to England easy.

"The language is not a problem for me and the accommodation to my new team has been very easy," he said.

However, the 25-year-old did make one observation: "We run in UK a little bit more than in Spain," he commented.

Arteta and Granero, along with fellow Premier League Spaniards Juan Mata of Chelsea and Santi Cazorla of Arsenal, gave AS their personal Ballon d'Or selections.

Arteta went first and chose "Leo Messi", before Granero jokingly said "Juan Mata". Mata himself said: "Any Spanish player (Casillas, Xavi or Iniesta), but fighting with Messi it's almost impossible."

Cazorla simply voted "Iniesta".