How Arsenal ace Ceballos has gone from FA Cup hero to fighting with team-mates |

The midfielder was a key player last season but now he finds himself struggling for game time in the Premier League and his frustration is showing

Dani Ceballos told Mikel Arteta before the FA Cup final that he wanted to stay to Arsenal for another season.

The manager didn’t need much persuading to help get the deal done. Ceballos had become a key player during Arteta’s year in charge, forming a midfield partnership with Granit Xhaka that helped propel Arsenal to FA Cup glory.

So, an agreement was quickly reached with Real Madrid, who were happy to extend the 24-year-old’s loan at the Emirates.

“I had a great time at this club last season and there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to come back,” Ceballos enthused at the time.

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“It’s true that I had other options, such as staying at Real Madrid and going back to the Spanish league, where there were teams interested in me.

“But I’d been really happy with what Mikel had built at the club since he came in. He is the right person to get this club back to where it deserves to be, which I believe is in the Champions League, competing against the best teams in Europe.”

It felt like the perfect match. 

The move gave Ceballos the opportunity to build on last season’s fine form and try earn himself a spot in the Spain squad for next summer’s European Championship.

It also allowed Arteta to retain the services of a player suited to his style and already fully adapted to the demands of the Premier League; one who had been integral to Arsenal’s improvement toward the tail end of the 2019-20 campaign.

Arteta Ceballos

“I love Dani’s passion and commitment and he’s a highly skilful player,” Arteta said. “We’re all delighted to welcome him back. We look forward to seeing him pick up where he left off.”

But things have not quite gone as planned so far.

The fact that Ceballos has more fights with team-mates to his name this season than assists tells its own story. But he has also started just four of Arsenal’s eight games in the Premier League this season and hasn’t scored for Arteta’s side since June.

Ceballos’ only assist came in the 1-0 success against West Ham in September, when he set up Eddie Nketiah for the late winner.

Ironically, that came just a week after the pair had been spotted squaring up to each other by the BT Sport cameras during the pre-match warm-up at Fulham on the opening day of the season.

Nketiah took exception to a late challenge from Ceballos in one of the passing drills and after some angry words were exchanged, the Spaniard responded by twice shoving the young striker away before the pair had to be separated by Sead Kolasinac.

The incident was soon smoothed over, with Arteta putting it down to the fact that both players were frustrated at being omitted from the starting XI at Craven Cottage.

However, the Arsenal…

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