Alvaro Arbeloa has revealed that former Tottenham Hotspur star Luka Modric and former Real Madrid teammate Matteo Kovacic encouraged him to move to West Ham United to work under Slaven Bilic. The ex-Liverpool defender says he is delighted to have the chance to prove himself in the Premier League once more, but admitted that he will need some time to reach full fitness after having been out of action since the end of last season.
The World Cup winner put an end to a seven-year spell with Real Madrid at the end of the 2015-2016 campaign after helping Los Blancos capture their 11th Champions League crown. The 33-year-old was heavily linked with a move to AC Milan earlier in the summer, and in the final days of the transfer window reports in Spain said he was going to move to Espanyol.
However, on deadline day he surprised all by making a shock return to the Premier League to become West Ham's 12th signing of the summer, following Andre Ayew, Sofiane Feghouli, Havard Nordtveit, Simone Zaza, Arthur Masuaku, Edmilison Fernandes, Gokhan Tore, Jonathan Calleri, Ashley Fletcher and youngsters Domingos Quina and Toni Martinez.
The versatile defender has revealed that a conversation with former Tottenham midfielder Modric and Kovacic played a key role in his final decision to join the Hammers.
"Slaven wants to see me training as soon as possible. I was talking with Luka Modric and Matteo Kovacic and they told me good things about the coach, so I want to work with him and hopefully I can learn a lot of things," Arbeloa revealed. "For me, this is a great chance to be back in England and in the Premier League, which is a fantastic league and I want to put myself in the Premier League again. This is a big club and a great club with good players and a fantastic coach."
The former Liverpool defender suggested he may need some time to be ready to prove his worth for the Hammers, having failed to have a pre-season with any club.
"I need two or three weeks to be really fit because I have been training on my own, which is different. You can see I feel really, really well and I'm excited to play for this team. I have been training and I feel ready," he said. "I've been in Real Madrid for seven years and now I'm back in England and I'm very happy to be here again. Everything has changed a little bit, but I'm really happy to be in London. I think the level of the Premier League this year is amazing, not just for the players but also for the coaches and I think one of the reasons to be here is that level of the Premier League."