Lucas Torreira admits Arsenal’s interest in him came as a welcome surprise, with the Uruguayan expecting to stay in Serie A before a £26 million ($33m) deal was pushed through.
The 22-year-old was a player held in high regard ahead of the summer transfer window, with several suitors prepared to spark a scramble for his signature.
It was initially thought that a man shining with Sampdoria would remain in Italy, with the combative midfielder only aware of domestic rivals readying bids.
He was, however, to be targeted by Arsenal and after speaking with Unai Emery, is delighted to be forging quite the reputation in the Premier League.
Torreira told Arsenal Media: “At the end of my last season at Sampdoria there were lots of teams being talked about.
“I never imagined coming here to England because it was mainly Italian clubs being mentioned.
“Before I left for the World cup I got a call from the coach which was a massive surprise for me.
“I knew that I had earned it because of all my hard work and everything that I had done. That phone call made me a happy man.
“It allowed me to relax too because it allowed me to focus all my attention on the national team and the World Cup. I’m so proud to be part of such an important team.”
Torreira, who was eased into action by Emery at the start of the 2018-19 campaign, has made an immediate impact in England.
His energetic performances have earned plenty of plaudits and helped Arsenal to piece together a 21-game unbeaten run, but he insists an adjustment period has been more difficult than he has made it look.
“It hasn’t been easy though: there’s the language and the issue of communicating,” Torreira added.
“I’m lucky because the coach is Spanish and the coaching staff are too, so that makes things easier for me because they can explain things in Spanish to me
“It’s also not been easy to adapt to the football here: the intensity, the tempo and quality of games
“At Sampdoria I had been used to playing in Serie A and Coppa Italia whereas now I’m involved in four competitions here as well as the national team.”
Torreira’s efforts have Arsenal sat fifth in the Premier League table while also progressing positively in the Europa League and Carabao Cup.