Arteta right to bide his time on Ceballos deal


Mikel Arteta remains coy on the prospect of Dani Ceballos' loan stay at Arsenal being made permanent and he's right to err on the side of caution.

The Spain international has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance since the start of February, having looked set to have his loan spell at the Emirates Stadium cut short in January.

A hamstring injury in November came at just the wrong time for the 23-year-old – he was on the sidelines when Arteta took charge – and he’s had to work hard to get back in the first-team squad.

Having been an outcast for the first month of Arteta’s reign, leading to speculation over an early return to Real Madrid, Ceballos is now back in favour, playing in six games in the last seven weeks.

He’s earned rave reviews for some of his outings, playing a particularly key role in the 3-2 win over Everton in February.

His good form has led to him being compared to former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas by ex-England and Bayern Munich man Owen Hargreaves.

Naturally, being compared to Fabergas, a player loved by Arsenal fans (before he joined Chelsea), has seen Ceballos’ stock rise considerably among Gunners supporters.

All the talk now is when Arsenal will try to sign Ceballos on a permanent deal although Arteta has been quick to play down talk of a deal for the Real man.

“We haven’t had any discussions about it,” he said. “I’m really happy with Dani and what he’s bringing to the team right now.”

This isn’t the first time talk of a permanent deal for Ceballos has raised its head, with several media outlets reporting in October that Arsenal were keen to sit down with Real to discuss a transfer after his good start.

It remains unclear whether the Spanish giants would be willing to cash in on a player who has struggled to establish himself at the Bernabeu since arriving from Real Betis in the summer of 2017.

When he initially joined Arsenal, Ceballos said he planned to go back to Real after his year on loan at the Emirates, using the north London outfit as a platform to enhance his claims to a spot in Spain’s squad for Euro 2020.

However, he’s changed his tune, stating he was glad to have left Madrid and talking about life in London in a glowing manner.

All the momentum seems to be pushing Arsenal towards a permanent deal, but Arteta clearly feels Ceballos still has much to prove and the stats suggest he’s right.

For all the praise for Ceballos’ good performances of late, he’s still only scored once and registered two assists. Those two assists came in the same game – a 2-1 win over Burnley back in August – and his solitary goal was bagged in October.

As playmakers, fellow central midfielders Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi rank higher on the Premier League’s creative index, while Ceballos has developed a worrying knack of drifting in and out of games.

While the stats might not be a fair reflection due to the time he spent out through injury, they indicate he will need a strong end to the campaign to convince Arteta and the club’s money men to splash the cash.

Arsenal are looking to add to their central midfield stocks in the summer and may decide the cash might be better spent elsewhere.

With Lucas Torreira now likely to miss the rest of the season through injury, Ceballos will get plenty of chances to prove his worth to the decision-makers at the Emirates.