New Birmingham City recruit Alexander Hleb has claimed he turned down offers from Tottenham, Liverpool and Benfica this summer.
Blues boss Alex McLeish pulled off something of a coup ahead of Tuesday's transfer deadline by recruiting the former Arsenal midfielder on a season-long loan from Barcelona.
And Hleb revealed it was the greater desire of Birmingham to secure his services that persuaded him to move to St Andrew's.
He told Belarus newspaper Pressball: "There were many offers - Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Benfica.
"It was necessary to carefully review and consider all the options. With some, we were not able to agree on conditions.
"Birmingham City apparently wanted to do the deal more than the rest so they were my preference.
"The decision was prompted by the fact that I am well acquainted with the Premier League in England."
Hleb impressed during his three seasons with Arsenal after joining the Gunners from Stuttgart in 2005, prompting Barca to pay more than £10million for the Belarus international in 2008.
But his chances at the Nou Camp have been few and far between and he spent last season on loan at Stuttgart, where he also featured only intermittently.
He is now hoping to get back to playing regular football at Birmingham, who finished ninth following their promotion to the Premier League last season.
Hleb said of his new side: "Birmingham have shown stable results and Alex McLeish is a good manager.
"Of course, they are not Arsenal, who play every year in the group stage of the Champions League. But for me it is now important to play and return to my previous level.
"Over the past year and a half much has gone wrong. The deal with Birmingham is my chance, which I must take."
McLeish admitted he surprised even himself with the capture of the 29-year-old, turning a long-term pipe-dream into reality.
The Scot said: "It was a bit of a surprise, because we had not quite courted Alexander over a couple of years, but we certainly had him on our list.
"I always thought it would be nigh-on impossible, with the kind of sums that had been bandied about for transfer fees and wages.
"But when we heard a deal could be done, and that Barcelona would help, we went for it."
Far from being a case of a manager trying to persuade his board to splash out on transfer deadline day, the Blues boss said this scenario was almost the opposite.
"I never pushed the board on it," said McLeish. "Carson Yeung and the board actually said to me 'look, we can do this. If you want to do it we will back you on this'. So credit to them."
Despite their top-half finish last term, Blues were the sixth lowest scorers in the division. McLeish is hoping that Hleb will help them create more chances this time around.
"Those skills between midfield and attack are something that I've craved a little bit," McLeish said. "I believe that I have enhanced the quality of the squad since I first arrived.
"There's no doubting we have some great players who are very good with the ball, but Hleb can just make that bit of difference.
"James McFadden is a similar type of creative player, but I felt we needed another one."
Blues also added 26-year-old winger Jean Beausejour and defender Martin Jiranek, 31, to their squad on a busy transfer deadline day.
Jiranek, brought in for a nominal fee from Spartak Moscow, said he jumped at the chance to play in England.
Speaking through an interpreter, he said: "I am happy because this is a great chance to play in the best league in the world.
"The second season is always more difficult than the first, but my international experience will help Birmingham not to lose their heads."
The Czech Republic international added he was pleased that the club had also signed Hleb, for reasons both on and off the field.
He said: "He's a great player of European quality, and for me it's a nice opportunity to have someone I can speak Russian with. I hope we can be friends."