Jon Toral has been on loan all season with Birmingham and the Spanish midfielder has been impressing at every turn.
Recovering from a genetic defect that caused problems in both his knees that resulted in numerous operations to fix the lax meniscus, Toral has six goals and four assists in 23 Championship appearances this season.
Speaking to Marca in Spain, the youngster who arrived at the club from Barcelona with Hector Bellerin in 2011, said about returning to Arsenal at the end of his loan “That is the goal that I yield. The idea is to make a good impression and to return to Arsenal, in my case, prove that I can be part of the team.”
The road is certainly far from clear ahead of Toral – he faces stiff competition from the midfielders already at the club, but he has already faced many challenges in his young career, not least moving abroad when he was only 16.
“It was not easy [to leave Barcelona to go to Arsenal]. You miss family, friends, food, weather…but you just adapt.
“My decision was based on the sports component. I saw the change could come to me better, and open the opportunity to play in a league that I have always liked and followed a lot since childhood.
“I always said to myself, if one day I have the opportunity, why not?”
But even after ceasing that opportunity, Toral still had to face a series of injury setbacks.
“It was very difficult because I got injured with the club and had come to a new club and wanted to make a good impression.
“It was hard not to play at the start.
“Soon, I relapsed in my right knee and it was two, three months to play again. I also had to undergo surgery, this time because of my left knee.
“In my case it was due to a genetic problem: my menisci are a bit lax and Dr. Cugat saved my career by sewing the meniscus in the knee wall.
“That was two and a half years ago and I have not had any problems.”
No interview with Toral would be complete without asking about his pal, Hector, who is doing so well at the club.
“I’m very happy for him. He is doing an excellent job.
“I’ve known him since I came to Barcelona at 8 years and I knew what he was capable.
“He knew that once he trod the right side of Arsenal, he was not going to miss.”