The midfielder was a key player last season but now he’s battling for the Premier League season and his frustration is showing
Dani Ceballos told Mikel Arteta ahead of the FA Cup final that he wanted to stay with Arsenal for another season.
It didn’t take much persuasion for the manager to close the deal. A key player during Arteta’s senior year, Ceballos had forged a midfield partnership with Granit Xhaka that helped bring Arsenal to FA Cup glory.
An agreement was quickly reached with Real Madrid, who were happy to extend the 24-year-old’s loan with the Emirates.
“I had a great time at this club last season and I never had any doubt that I wanted to come back,” said Ceballos at the time.
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“It is true that I had other options, such as staying at Real Madrid and returning to the Spanish league, where teams were interested in me.
“But I’ve been really happy with what Mikel has built since joining the club. He’s the right person to get this club back to where it deserves, which I think is competing in the Champions League Association stands. ” best teams in Europe. “
It felt like the perfect match.
The move gave Ceballos the opportunity to build on last season’s good form and secure a place in the Spanish squad for next summer’s European Championship.
It also enabled Arteta to retain the services of a player who matched his style and was already fully adapted to the requirements of the Premier League. One who was instrumental in improving Arsenal towards the end of the 2019-20 season.
“I love Dani’s passion and commitment and he’s a very skilled player,” said Arteta. “We are all looking forward to welcoming him back. We look forward to seeing him pick up where he left off. “
But things have not gone quite as planned so far.
The fact that Ceballos has had more fights with teammates than assists this season tells its own story. But he’s only started four of Arsenal’s eight Premier League games this season and hasn’t scored a goal for Arteta’s side since June.
Ceballos’ only assist was their 1-0 win over West Ham in September when he set up Eddie Nketiah for the late winner.
Ironically, that came just a week after the couple left the BT Sport Cameras during the warm-up before the game in Fulham on the opening day of the season.
Ceballos was upset by a late challenge from Nketiah in one of the passing drills and pushed him away twice before the pair had to be separated from Sead Kolasinac.
The incident was soon smoothed out, and Arteta attributed it to both players being frustrated with being excluded from the starting XI at Craven Cottage.
The Arsenal boss now had to ask himself again questions about Ceballo’s fights with a teammate, this time David Luiz.
The couple clashed during a training session in London Colney. Luiz reportedly slapped Ceballos in the face after being annoyed by a late challenge from the midfielder.
Arteta have downplayed the incident and insist that there is now “no problem” between the players ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Leeds United on Sunday.
The fact that Ceballos was again embroiled in a bankruptcy raises questions about the midfielder’s mindset after a difficult start to the season.
“Whether it’s a coincidence or not, it doesn’t change much,” argued Arteta. “We only require the level of competition and the standards that we want to set.
“Obviously there is a very fine line between a competition theme and another place that we obviously don’t support and don’t want.
“But it’s a contact sport and incidents will happen. It’s about how you solve them as a team and how you move forward from there. “
Ceballos is now in a similar position to when Arteta first arrived at Arsenal just under a year ago.
After returning from injury, he tried hard to get back on the team and was occasionally banned from some squads on match day, with Arteta publicly demanding more from the midfielder.
A return to Spain in the January window was a very real possibility, but Ceballos stayed and intruded on Arteta’s plans and became one of the first names on the team’s sheet as the season progressed.
Now he must go a similar path and have the ideal opportunity to remind everyone of his qualities on Elland Road.
After Thomas Partey injured and Mohamed Elneny self-isolating and testing positive for coronavirus, Ceballos and Granit Xhaka – another player who has been among the substitutes for the past few weeks – are expected to start at the heart of midfield.
The pair worked wonderfully well last season and will have to do it again on Sunday as Arsenal attempt to recover from their dire 3-0 loss to Aston Villa before the international break.
The arrival of Partey and the shape of Elneny have both looked inside and out, and in Ceballos’ case the frustration seems to be evident.
It’s not the first time his journey has come to a crossroads at Arsenal. The first time he went in the right direction and proved his worth.
Arteta now hopes that Ceballos will find his way again.