Martin Odegaard's return to Real Madrid "hurt" Real Sociedad, but David Silva signing for the club was a welcome "shock", says Nacho Monreal.
Odegaard joined Sociedad on a season-long loan from Madrid in July 2019, which marked his third temporary move away from Santiago Bernabeu since his arrival in the Spanish capital four years prior.
The Norwegian was a big hit at the Anoeta as he contributed four goals and six assists to help Imanol Alguacil's side finish sixth in La Liga, and also played a key role in their run to the Copa Del Rey final, which has been postponed until supporters are allowed to return to stadiums.
Madrid sent the 21-year-old to Sociedad with the option to either extend his loan by an extra year or bring him back to the Bernabeu at the end of the 2019-20 season.
Monreal says the Blancos initially decided to let Odegaard remain in San Sebastian, before performing a U-turn which left the whole squad disappointed.
The Sociedad defender was, however, pleasantly surprised to see Silva join the club from Manchester City after the Madrid loanee's departure, as he told The Guardian: “It was quick. Martin Odegaard was going to stay: that’s what they’d said.
“But then Madrid decided to take him back. That hurt. We were left a little ‘orphaned’ by it, but the club handled it very, very well and above all very fast.
"In less than two days we’d gone from losing Odegaard to signing Silva. You have to applaud that.”
Monreal added on Silva moving to the Anoeta after calling time on a hugely successful 10-year spell at the Etihad Stadium: “I’d heard the club was working on a signing but it never crossed my mind that it could be David.
“One day I was flicking through the sports press: ‘David Silva signs for Real Sociedad.’
“It was a shock. He’d been at City 10 years, the talk was of Lazio or leaving Europe. There are loads of places he could have gone.”
Silva's presence has helped Sociedad reach even greater heights at the start of the current campaign, with Alguacil's men sitting top of La Liga on 23 points after their first 10 fixtures.
“When I signed, I knew the club, the players, and knew we would play good football, that we’d be high up,” Monreal said of the Basque outfit's recent progress.
"But honestly, not this high. I encountered a better team than expected.
"In depth, this is probably the best squad I’ve been in. We’ve made a leap in quality this season.”
Asked if Sociedad can keep up their current form to mount a genuine title challenge, Monreal responded: “No one knows. Look, logically, the favourites are Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico.
"Ask anyone. But I saw Leicester win the [Premier] league. Everyone said ‘they’ll slip away, they’ll slip away, they’ll slip away’ and they didn’t slip away.
“It’s nice looking at the table but let’s see where we are tomorrow, what we’re fighting for in February, March. If we reach week 30 still up there, wonderful.
"And if so, us veterans will have a role to play. All that’s on our mind is to enjoy this. But one thing I’m clear about: we don’t fear any team; we don’t feel inferior to anyone.”