Ceballos told to fight for his place at Arsenal

Mikel Arteta

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has told Dani Ceballos he must fight for his place at the club as it will not just be handed to him.

The Real Madrid midfielder moved to the Emirates in August on a season-long loan and initially impressed under Unai Emery, but has scored just once in 17 appearances for the Gunners.

While the likes of Nicolas Pepe have thanked Arteta for his input since arriving, reports in Spain claim Ceballos could be heading home early.

A hamstring injury in November sidelined him for the best part of two months and he is yet to feature under the new boss ahead of Monday’s FA Cup fixture at Bournemouth.

Ceballos has played in Spain’s most recent internationals and is said to be concerned about his chances of making the squad for Euro 2020 if he is not playing first-team football.

However, Arteta has made it clear starting places must be earned by players.

He said: “I had a conversation with Dani, when I joined the club he wasn’t here he was in Madrid because he was doing his rehab for over a month getting back to fitness and I haven’t seen much of him because he only trained with us for a week or 10 days.

“It’s very early to assess what I can or cannot do with him. I heard about all those things, but I have nothing to comment.

“He needs to get back to fitness and fight for his place like any other player. After that we will make a selection that is fair with what I see on the pitch.”

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was also this week linked with a move to Barcelona although Arteta has rejected those rumours and pointed out the programme notes of the forward earlier this month that stated his happiness at the club.

The Spaniard’s first match in charge of Arsenal was away to Bournemouth on Boxing Day and Monday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie will mark a month and one day in charge for the 37-year-old.

In seven matches, the Gunners have only lost once under Arteta although they have secured just two wins during that period, but he is happy with the direction the club are going following the midweek draw with Chelsea.

Arteta said: “A lot of things that I wanted to implement, not just with the players but around the club in terms of the culture, I’m seeing very good signs in progress.”