Dani Ceballos says it took him some time to get to grips with English football, not helped by the fact he had a significant injury, but believes he’s made real progress as a player since his arrival in the Premier League.
The midfielder credits Mikel Arteta for learning a different way of playing, but insists it was his hard work on the training ground which helped him win over the Arsenal boss and gain a place in the side.
Ceballos has been increasingly influential in recent weeks, so much so that Arsenal have asked Real Madrid about taking him on loan for another season, and he’s player fans have connected with.
Not simply through what he does on the pitch, but his determination to fight for a place when his departure in January was a strong possibility.
“Spanish football is much more tactical and technical, whereas English football is a lot more physical,” he told Sky Sports.
“I found it difficult to adapt to that and get used to the rhythm of the game, which was more or less what I expected because I knew the speed was going to be very high.
“But after my injury, I came back and reached a very good level. Since then, I think I’ve made a lot of progress physically as well as technically.
“The truth is that I worked so hard out there. I trained to my limits and now I have a very high physical level.
“That, combined with the part of my game that the míster likes, which is having the ball and being a protagonist, means I’m now a player who fits into his team.
“Since we came back from Dubai, I have played practically every minute with him. That’s been thanks to him, but also thanks to what I have done and what I have demonstrated on the pitch.
“I told him, ‘Look, I want to show that I can play here.’ I think I have done that.”
As for his future, he sounds more than open to staying another season – perhaps more if a permanent deal can be done, but he has to go back to Real Madrid at the end of the campaign to discuss matters with them.
“I have to return to Real Madrid and they have to make a decision because I have a contract there for the next three years.
“Once I know their decision, I will sit down with my family and the people close to me and see what’s best for me next year.
“But the truth is I’m very happy at Arsenal. It’s a club in which I already have a year of experience, so it would be very easy to return. I wouldn’t have to adapt to a new league or new club with a different manager and players.
“I think it would be a good step for me.”