12 Jan Toral raring to go
New Rangers signing Jon Toral has revealed former Ibrox favourite Mikel Arteta helped sell him on his move to Glasgow.
The 21-year-old Spaniard has joined Mark Warburton’s squad on a six-month loan from Arsenal after a similar switch to LaLiga outfit Granada was cut short.
Toral came through the youth ranks at Barcelona but has joined up with Gers in a bid to boost his first-team chances in north London.
And he says it was the advice of fellow La Masia graduate Arteta which helped convince him to make Scotland his next destination.
Arteta spent two years with Rangers after leaving the Catalan giants aged just 20 but used his Ibrox stint as a platform for eventual moves to Everton and the Gunners.
Toral – who spent last season on loan at Birmingham – said: “I’m really happy to be here and I can’t wait to get started.
“I hope I can get to the game in Germany, if not the cup game next week.
“I know Gedion Zelalem had a great time here last season when he was on loan from Arsenal, so that was on my mind.
“I spoke to Mikel Arteta as well and he told me I would enjoy my time here, so that helped me take the decision.
“He told me how big this club is and how well looked after I would be here. That’s good to know from players who have been here in the past.
“Playing in front of 50,000 fans every week is only going to make me better and help set me up for the rest of my career.”
Now Toral is looking forward to linking up with Warburton once more.
He joined Brentford in the summer of 2014 on a season-long loan when the Gers boss was still in charge at Griffin Park.
And he reckons the similarities between his old Bees boss’ attacking playing style and the dynamic game-plan favoured by Arsene Wenger will help him settle into the Ladbrokes Premiership.
He said: “Mark came with the proposal for me to come here. He came out (to Spain) and had a chat and it was great to catch up. He said I would enjoy it a lot and I know I’m going to enjoy playing under him again because I really did have a nice time with him at Brentford.
“Mark plays a very similar to style to the way we do at Arsenal. He has a connection with the boss at Arsenal and it suits players from there to come up here on loan.
“Arsene knows Mark quite well and knows he’s a very good manager, so he’s very keen to send players to teams that Mark manages.”
Wenger persuaded Toral and close friend Hector Bellerin to quit Barca back in 2014, with the promise of an easier route to the Gunners’ first team.
But while Bellerin has grasped his opportunity, Toral is still waiting to make his break through.
He was left frustrated when his move to Granada produced just six first-team outings but he hopes joining Gers will open more doors for him at the Emirates.
“My personal objective is just to help the team finish as high as we can,” he said. ” I want to get as many minutes as I can and finish the season strong.
“I have another year left on my contract at Arsenal and I hope I can go back and make the step up to the first team.
“But that’s not for me to decide. I have to wait for the manager’s decision so I’ll just focus on my time here.
“Arsenal is a top club, a side fighting to get in the Champions League every year and for the Premier League. It’s tough to get into the side but I’m going to work as hard as I can to try to do it.”
Gers boss Mark Warburton believes his new recruit can shine as Gers look to secure second spot and a return to European football.
Speaking to RangersTV, the manager said: “Jon is a very intelligent boy. I liked working with Jon, he came through the Barcelona academy and he moved to Arsenal alongside Hector Bellerin.
“A very, very talented player, a very respectful player, an articulate individual so delighted to work with him.
“He’s technically gifted, tremendous left foot, sees the pass early, scores goals and did a great job at Birmingham.
“He was the Player of the Year and won Goal of the Year and fully justified as well, so having worked with him and watched him at Birmingham there are no doubts about his ability.
“I think he was frustrated at Granada not to get more pitch time, certainly his talent warrants that, so delighted to get him on board.
“Again, all thanks to Arsenal. We have a good relationship but Arsenal have worked closely with us and we are very thankful to them for their help.”