There are only three things Julio Pleguezuelo really misses about Spain. Three things that make him long for the land of his birth: his family, the sun and his mum’s cannelloni.
The 17-year-old is loving life in England, but the thought of a bit of home cooking is enough to bring new urgency to the softly-spoken Mallorcan’s voice. His decision to swap countries and cultures as a teenager has made him to grow up quickly, but the look that comes over his face as he describes his favourite meal is a sharp reminder of his youth.
"I really miss my mum’s food, especially her cannelloni," Julio tells the Arsenal Magazine with a smile. "It’s the best I’ve ever tried. I always tell her to cook it when I’m coming home because it’s so good. “I don’t go back very often, maybe once every two or three months, and I only miss my family really as I like life in London a lot. There are a few differences between living in Barcelona and England - first of all the weather!
"I had to think about what chances I would get at Barcelona and what chances I would get at Arsenal"
"In Barcelona it is absolutely different to England,” he adds. "It rains in London almost every day... OK, maybe not every day, but there is not much sun! I’m used to it now, but sometimes I miss the sun, I have to say."A cultured defender blessed with pace, power and a passing range not usually seen in a centre back, ‘Pleggy’ has caught the eye ever since his arrival from La Masia last July. He may be thriving in his new surroundings, but he admits it was not an easy decision to leave Barcelona’s academy.“I was thinking about it for two months and discussed it with my agents, family and the club. Those two months were very hard for me because I was playing for Barcelona but knew I might leave. I was there for two years and they were unbelievable. I was living in La Masia and everything was perfect – friends, team-mates, school, football. "I learned so much, but I had to think about what chances I would get at Barcelona and what chances I would get at Arsenal. I had to make sure I did what was best for my career, and I feel like I have made the right decision."I also knew Hector [Bellerin] and Jon [Toral] from their time at Barcelona, and it really helped that they were at Arsenal. They told me beforehand that I would learn a lot from playing English football, plus I could see that they were getting on well here, so I thought ‘why not me?’"Cesc Fabregas is another example. I remember watching him in the Arsenal first team when I was younger and he was absolutely amazing. He was in the first team when he was my age, so he’s a real inspiration."
"I’m quicker than a lot of strikers, and I may not be bigger but I can jump higher"
"Obviously my size is not the biggest but I think I have other qualities. For example, I’m quicker than a lot of strikers, and I may not be bigger but I can jump higher. I’m improving a lot to substitute for the fact that I’m not very tall."I can play both centre-back positions, on the right and the left, and even at right back too. Maybe in midfield sometimes too, but not very often. At Barcelona I learned many things on the ball that I can show here and hopefully make the team better."I still have to work on my strength and also to think quicker, because you need that in England. Everything here is quick, quick, quick – the pace is very different to Spain. But it is my type of football here."I’m very happy because I think I’m gettig on well and I can see in the next few years that I may have a chance of playing in the first team. That is a big motivation for any young player."
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