Premier League Ukraine spell key to Arsenal striker Perez's career

Lucas Perez has insisted his spells with Karpaty Lviv and Dynamo Kiev helped him mature and make the step to Arsenal in the end

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Arsenal forward Lucas Perez says his time in Ukraine helped him mature and realise that he had to do everything within his powers to get a move to a big club.

The 28-year-old joined Karpaty Lviv in January 2011 and also enjoyed a spell with Dynamo Kiev before moving to PAOK in July 2013.

Perez then joined Deportivo La Coruna in 2014 and earned himself a move to Arsenal this year.

"A few of us got the chance to go and play in Ukraine - I went along with two other Spaniards," Perez told Arsenal Player.

"It was a chance to play in Europe and looked a huge opportunity for us. The three of us weighed it up and decided to go for it. One thing led to another, I spent three years of my life in Ukraine. 

"It was really tough because of the distance, the culture, the food and you have to adapt to the climate too. It was very difficult. 

"It was a good experience because leaving Spain to go to Ukraine taught me a lot about life. It helped me to figure out what I wanted, to mature and to grow as a person and as a footballer. It really helped me on a personal level, but it wasn't a great experience. It was very hard - there were some tough times. 

"I realised that what I really wanted to do was to go to the Spanish league, the Premier League or another big league and play for a big team like Arsenal. My dream was to play in the Premier League or LaLiga. 

"My career has been on an upward curve from the moment I left for Ukraine right up until today. I feel really happy and I want to take advantage of the opportunity I have. I want to prove the kind of player I am here at a big club."

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