By Joe Brewin
Mikel Arteta believes the rough-and-tumble realities of Scottish football set him up for a seamless transition to the Premier League.
Arteta was just 19 when Rangers secured his services from Barcelona in 2002, following a successful loan spell with Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1.
Catalonia to Glasgow was hardly the natural path to follow for an emerging talent in Spain - but Arteta has no regrets.
“In my second year at Paris St-Germain we played Rangers in the Champions League at Ibrox,” he told Arsenal Player. “I was really impressed with the stadium and everything that went with it.
“In February that year they came over and said they wanted to sign me. At the time I was only on loan in Paris and Barcelona wouldn't sell me to another Spanish club.
“It wasn't easy to find another club like that because they were asking for quite a lot of money for me for my age. So I took the chance to go there. At that moment, Rangers were a big club, with big players, playing in the Champions League.
“But Scottish football was tough, really tough. It was really physical, people got at you and I had to improve on that a lot. I think I did that to get to the level that the Premier League required of me.”
You can watch Mikel’s ‘Close Up’ on Arsenal Player now.Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source