Premier League underachievers Arsenal allowed Nacho Monreal to go back to La Liga in August when Real Sociedad made a bid.
Nacho Monreal might have thought his trophy-lifting days were behind him when the 34-year-old left-back swapped North London for San Sebastian last summer.
After all, Real Sociedad are not exactly avid collectors of silverware. La Real have not sampled the sweet taste success for over three decades with the 1987 Copa del Rey the most recent triumph on the club’s list of honours.
By April 18th, however, a veteran defender enjoying his first season back in Spain could have etched his name into Sociedad folklore.
On Wednesday night, Monreal proved that there is plenty of life in an old dog yet as he helped Imanol Alguacil’s side seal a second-leg victory over Mirandes in the Copa semis, raising the enticing possibility of a Basque derby in next month’s final against bitter rivals Athletic Bilbao.
And, speaking to Marca, Monreal has admitted that ending Sociedad’s trophy drought would mean more to him than any of his three FA Cups in Arsenal colours.
“Winning is always winning, no matter where you are but, when you’re at a club like Arsenal, you have to fight for trophies every season,” said the former Spain international, one of the bargains of the season at just £250,000.
“They know it’s very difficult, but the team is designed for that. Meanwhile, I think La Real [fight for] other types of objectives. It would be a great success to win something here, something special.
“I think I’d enjoy it just as much or [even] more than the ones I won at Arsenal.”
The wise old head of a Sociedad team full of fresh-faced superstars-in-waiting, Monreal has been a huge influence on and off the pitch as the likes of Martin Odegaard, Alexander Isak, Mikel Merino and Mikel Oyarzabal take Spanish football by storm.
With Arsenal going nowhere fast under Mikel Arteta, perhaps a player with his big-game nous and winning mentality was worth keeping hold of.