Manchester United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has told Sport Bild that he did not expect playing in the Premier League to be as hard as he has found it.
Mkhitaryan, 28, joined United from Borussia Dortmund in the summer but initially endured a difficult spell under Jose Mourinho, only establishing himself as a first-team regular in late November, having been dropped after a disappointing showing in September's 2-1 defeat to Manchester City.
"When I watched the Premier League on the telly, I didn't expect it to be that hard," Mkhitaryan said. "The opponents are all physically strong, real athletes. It wasn't like that in Germany. You must be prepared for it. But I prepared myself for it."
When asked if it was always his dream to play for United, Mkhitaryan said: "No. But Manchester United always belonged to the best clubs in the world for me. And Manchester United just is a bigger club than Borussia Dortmund. Everyone knows that, and you must accept it. When I received the enquiry, I knew that this would be my challenge. A new team, a new country."
Agent Mino Raiola helped secure moves for Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to United last summer, but the Armenia interntional insisted that it was his own decision to join the club.
Mkhitaryan also hit back at suggestions that he has been "greedy," saying: "I can't understand that, and it's wrong. If it had only been for the money, I would have joined Anzhi Makhachkala and not Dortmund from [Shakhtar] Donetsk.
"But I did not want that. I wanted to continue my development. I don't want to miss anything. Life's too short to pass on something. I did not make a decision against Dortmund in the summer. It was time to take on a new challenge."
Mkhitaryan says it is an honour to perform at Old Trafford and he is determined to repay the fans' faith with success for the club.
"It's not called the Theatre of Dreams for nothing," he said. "Our stadium is like a big stage. The fans are used to success and beautiful football from the days of manager and legend Alex Ferguson. They don't want to do without it, and that's why we have to deliver. But I also enjoy that feeling.
"Manchester United are not just some club. To be part of this club also means to be part of a great history. And if you can access your potential, you will always get a chance. If you don't do it, you are out of it. That's why you always have to be ready to give it your all."
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, he added: "Let's wait. In England, things can turn with a snip of the finger. We were far, far away from [qualifying for the] Champions League only a few weeks ago. Now it's only five points to the second position. Competition in the Premier League is high. That's why it makes no sense to say it's a good or bad season now."