Arsenal ended their 2019-20 campaign in the best possible way on August 1, landing the FA Cup at Chelsea’s expense.
After a tumultuous campaign, Mikel Arteta’s men set down a marker by claiming the trophy at Wembley, thanks to two Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goals.
The Gabonese striker made the difference, as he did in the semi-final, and his future is a major priority for the Gunners, with just one year left on the skipper’s deal.
But another man who has been vital under Arteta is compatriot Dani Ceballos.
The midfielder has shone in a deep-lying midfield role under the ex-Manchester City No.2, his ability to pick a pass and change the direction of play underpinning Arteta’s side.
Unfortunately, the Real Madrid loanee’s contract at the Emirates Stadium is now up, and he’s heading back to the Spanish capital following the weekend triumph.
Arsenal boss Arteta is keen to keep him at the club.
He has found a successful formula with Ceballos and Granit Xhaka directing traffic from the heart of midfield, having been impressed by how the former knuckled down and adapted to a new role.
However, things are complex, with Arteta, Arsenal, Ceballos and Real Madrid all having different wants and needs.
So what happens now?
This week Ceballos is booked in for meetings with Real Madrid chiefs, including Florentino Perez.
Los Blancos’ president messaged Ceballos in the aftermath of the FA Cup win to congratulate him, and now they will sit down together to see what is best for the Spanish champions and Ceballos.
After the final, Ceballos told Cadena Ser : “From today, I am a Real Madrid player and I’m happy about that. Real Madrid have an important game against Manchester City and from then on, I will talk to the club and discuss my future.
“It’s clear that Real Madrid have great players. They have won the most important title this season, which is La Liga.
“I need to talk to the club and will do so after [Real Madrid’s game] against [Manchester] City and evaluate what is best for me.
“Next year there’s the European Championship and the Olympics and I want to enjoy football, to be happy and play a minimum of 35 games, that is my aim.”
Speaking to COPE, he added: “Madrid are better than any club in the world. We’ll see about my future.”
Is there a place for him in Madrid?
Quite frankly, no. Zinedine Zidane wasn’t keen on keeping him around last summer, and the Frenchman is looking to move on a number of players – James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, those out on loan – who aren’t part of his plans to free up space on the wage bill and make money available to strengthen other areas.
Ceballos would fall into that category, even with Luka Modric now into his twilight years. The emergence last term of Federico Valverde works…