Arsenal midfielder Dani Ceballos has hinted he wants a permanent switch to the Emirates after flourishing under Mikel Arteta. The 24-year-old described the Gunners as “my club” as he spoke about turning down an offer to stay at Real Madrid this summer.
Ceballos earned a second season-long loan at Arsenal after establishing himself in the first team following the Premier League’s return from lockdown last term, playing a crucial role in the Gunners’ FA Cup triumph.
The Spain international said Real wanted him to stay at Madrid ahead of the new campaign, while he was also the subject of interest from other La Liga sides, including his former club Real Betis.
But Ceballos turned down the chance to fight for a place in Zinedine Zidane’s side, saying his mind was made up on returning to Arsenal, where his importance to the team had grown under Arteta’s tutelage.
“I spoke with Madrid to say that Arteta wanted me to come back,” he said at a press conference with the Spanish national team.
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“They asked me to wait, but I was clear that I wanted to return to my club, where I had found myself very well.
“You sit down to appreciate that the Euros and Olympic Games are coming and you know that you have to play an important role in my team.
“With Mikel, I found happiness as a player and as a person. And that is key for a player.”
Ceballos struggled with a hamstring injury early last season after being signed by Arteta’s predecessor Unai Emery in the summer.
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After initially finding it difficult to break into the first team again once Arteta had taken charge, he eventually began to excel once he regained his match sharpness.
He was pushed back into a deeper role alongside Granit Xhaka, and the move paid off as he became one of Arsenal’s most effective defensive midfielders – averaging 2.2 tackles per game after lockdown as opposed to 1.9 beforehand.
Ceballos added: “People always say the first year is one of transition, but after the lockdown we saw the Dani Ceballos we all wanted, with the arrival of Mikel, we know the team improved.
“I found a position which isn’t usual for me, a bit more defensive. The Premier League takes you to the limit both physically and technically. I think I’ve improved a lot over the last six months.”
Meanwhile, Matteo Guendouzi says he needed a fresh challenge to revive his career after falling out of favour under Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.
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Guendouzi, who captained France’s under-21 side this week, has joined Hertha Berlin on loan for the season after the Gunners failed to offload him during the summer.
I just really needed to play this year, a new challenge,” he told reporters.
“That was the most important thing for me. I am still young, I am only 21, so playing time was the top priority for me.
“So Hertha Berlin, I know that I will be able to express myself in a magnificent league.
“They are a very good club with big ambitions. So, I have left to go on loan there for a year, so I will give everything I can for this club.
“I needed playing time, I need to play, I needed to enjoy myself on the pitch and that is what I am going to do this year.”
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