Homesick Reyes admits he nearly left Arsenal

May 14, 2006

Jose Antonio Reyes is no longer pining for a return home after admitting he felt like quitting the club when he first arrived at Highbury.

The Spanish youngster has become an integral part of Arsene Wenger's new look Arsenal and is looking forward to facing old foes Barcelona in the Champions League final in Paris this week.

Reyes, signed for a club record fee of £17.5million from Sevilla in January 2004, initially failed to adapt to life in London and was constantly linked with a return to La Liga.

In February 2005, Reyes was caught out by a prank call from a Spanish radio station when he allegedly declared he was disappointed with life in London and had not ruled out a return to Spain.

But he signed a new six-year contract with Arsenal last year and now says he is no longer looking to go home even if he gets depressed by England's winter weather.

Reyes said: 'I have to admit at the beginning of my stay in England I did struggle a little bit and I thought about leaving the team.

'Now, with the help of my family and colleagues, I am very happy here and don't want to leave.

'No particular player helped me - we all help each other and I could not single out one person from my family because they all helped as well.

'Privately they were telling me England is not such a bad place and just because I didn't speak English, it shouldn't be a barrier for my happiness at Arsenal.

'In the winter when it gets dark at 3pm in the afternoon, I get depressed. But when it is sunny I am quite happy. But I am now very happy here.'

Reyes is no stranger to facing Barcelona as he did so on four occasions during his time at Sevilla - winning one, drawing two and losing one.

But he believes the favourites for the competition have reached a new plateau in terms of the way they play football.

''Barcelona have always been a great team,' said Reyes. 'I have never looked at them with dislike. When I was playing with Sevilla we lost one, got two draws and beat them once. I scored when they drew.

'I believe they have reached another level in terms of footballing ability. They play very attractive football.

'They have been playing together as a team for a few years now and they understand how they have got to play.'

The final is already being billed as a showdown between Barca's Ronaldinho and Arsenal's Thierry Henry and Reyes believes they are both at the very top of their game.

Reyes added: 'They are very strong and quick and score many goals - I would include them both in the top three players in the world right now.'