Semi Ajayi has stated that while he developed at Arsenal, he needed to leave to put into practice what he learnt at the north London club.
Ajayi, who came through the ranks at Charlton Athletic before being offered his first professional contract in January 2012, joined the Gunners’ Academy in September 2013, after impressing as a trialist with the club.
After two years without a senior appearance, featuring sparingly on the bench, he left for Cardiff City.
“I learned a lot, especially at Arsenal,” Ajayi told Sky Sports.
“I feel like my game came along leaps and bounds and I was around world-class players, training with them day in, day out. I had great coaches and great facilities and I was just a sponge when I was there, soaking in all of the information that I could and trying to improve as much as I could.
“I left because I got to the stage where I did want to try and get some first-team games under my belt, but by no means would I say that the two years I spent there were unsuccessful to me because I developed a huge amount in that time.”
With the Bluebirds, Ajayi was a regular in their Development squad, but again, never enjoyed first team action. He was loaned out to AFC Wimbledon, Crewe Alexandra and current club Rotherham United.
Ahead of the 2017-18 campaign, the Millers made his deal permanent. He helped them to the English Championship, via the play-offs.
This season, he has been a revelation, taking his transition to the base of the midfield with grace. He scored five goals in March, thus, earning himself the Championship Player of the Month award.
In September last year, Gernot Rohr invited the former Arsenal prospect, who had previously turned out for the Nigeria U20 side thrice. He was selected for Nigeria's 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Seychelles; making his debut as a substitute in the 3-0 win.
The Super Eagles will begin their Afcon campaign against Burundi in Alexandria, before meeting Guinea and Madagascar as they look to reach the knockout stages.