Thursday, December 7, 2023

Ceballos talks Zidane, Real ambitions & his role under Arteta

Dani Ceballos says he still hopes to play for Real Madrid even though opportunities have been few and far between since Zinedine Zidane returned to the dugout.

The Spain international’s playing time at the Bernabeu fell off a cliff when the Frenchman returned in March 2019 and he soon organised a season-long loan move to Arsenal which he renewed last summer.

Having seen more first team action under Julen Lopetegui and caretaker Santiago Scolari, Ceballos could be forgiven for harbouring a grudge against Zidane but he’s content that the 48-year-old was at least clear with him from the outset.

In a radio interview with Cadena Ser programme El Larguero, Ceballos said: “For those at Madrid, the arrival of Zidane has done everyone good.

“Each coach has his tastes of players. He told me I needed to play and minutes. He was clear with me.”

“I signed a long contract with Madrid. I have two and a half years left. My goal is to succeed at Arsenal. My wish is to wear the Madrid shirt.”

Ceballos also touched on how things are going with Arsenal and said he works well with manager Mikel Arteta.

“Mikel is a coach who fits me like a glove because he played in the same position as me. He wants the team to play forward when we steal the ball.

“We have started to play with 4-2-3-1 [formation]. Arteta has placed me in the number 8 role. It is a very static game. He wants to be in control of the game.”

On Arsenal’s poor start to the season, he added: “We had the aim of fighting for the European places but we got into a bad dynamic and when that happens it’s difficult to get out. We’ve chained together three wins so hopefully we’ll go up now.”

Related articles


Notify of

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Man Manny

I don’t think he will break into Madrid’s first team as long as Zidane is there. I don’t also think a third season on loan to us makes sense…and we won’t buy him either. So, I see his future in one of the mid-table teams in La Liga.

Johnny 4 Hats

It’s so frustrating because he has shown flashes of utter brilliance. His pass to Saka in the first half and then his turn and pass to Laca in the second were truly next level. But unfortunately they are outliers in a lot of average performances. It’s hard to distinguish whether it’s because of his deployment by Arteta or if he does just run hot and cold a little too much. Given that his asking price will be in the region of £30-40m, I’d argue that those funds could be directed better elsewhere. But we shall see. We’d all written him… Read more »


The problem I see with Ceballos is that he is a bit of a flat track bully. He looks great against lesser quality teams, but he has struggled at times in bigger games when we try to stay in control – especially alongside Xhaka. Both looked pretty good in that run you mentioned, but again only against teams in which we sat deep and didn’t try to dominate the ball. I think there is a pretty decent player there, but I’m not sure I see value at that price range. I think someone like Emi Buendia could add everything he… Read more »


But what about his performances at the end of last season? He looked quality in those big games. I’d argue he’s one of the few players whose intensity off the ball hasn’t dropped this season. However, perhaps as a result of playing deeper and deeper, he’s struggled to have an impact on our attacking game. It’s noteable how much better he looks going forward with willing runners ahead of him though.


I mentioned that, but in those games we basically were parking the bus, he was up for it and worked hard and did well. However, when we have tried to get out and play against bigger teams (even decent teams) he’s struggled. I was pleased with his WBA performance, but I need to see a bit more against the top half teams and more consistency. I think he could be a really nice pairing with Partey, but Mo seems a nice pairing too because he allows Partey to get forward a bit more, whereas Ceballos might force Partey into a… Read more »


I too think he could be a nice pairing with Partey. Between him, Xhaka, and Elneny, he has the highest ceiling. If he can settle in as the first choice next to Partey, and if we can continue climbing up the table, I think we’ll be wishing to keep him (like we did at the end of last season). But those are ifs and the jury is still out.


I agree totally with this. But inconsistency hurts. That is why I really like Mo alongside Partey, you know what you are going to get with Mo – a really solid midfield base. He also allows Partey to play a more box-to-box role and his mobility and his own sneaky creativity look primed for a future in that role at Arsenal. Add to that the growing creativity of the dynamic trio of Saka, ESR and Martinelli and it gives futher weight to Mo playing the holding role. With some more creative pieces around him Mo could solidify himself in a… Read more »


While I agree that Ceballos has been far to inconsistent, I think you’re valuing Mo too highly. He’s a fabulous player to have in the squad, and I could see him coming into the starting 11 in matches against top 6 opponents, as he did supremely well against Man U. But he’s not someone who should be starting week in, week out if you ask me.
Neither is Xhaka or Ceballos though… it’s just that Ceballos has a potential to raise his game another level, which the other two lack.


I agree, if we have top 4 ambitions we need to upgrade on the Ceballos/Xhaka/Mo option…Have a Buendia John!


“However, when we have tried to get out and play against bigger teams (even decent teams) he’s struggled.” Tbh, we’ve rarely tried to get out and play against top 6 sides for a whole 90 minutes, and on the occasions we have like against Chelsea last week, Ceballos may or may not have played. So, we’re looking at a very small data set and it’s difficult to draw a conclusion from it. So I’d rather look at his performances as a whole instead of fussing about performances in a particular permutation of circumstances. I get asking for more consistency of… Read more »


A lot of players can look good for a few games.

That’s not why you buy a player.

You buy for consistency, and Ceballos hasn’t shown any.


This is my point. And I think Loose Cannon agrees (and most others) he lacks consistency. I just think he lacked it most in games where we have tried to control possession and the tempo of the game against teams that have played us on the counter – he’s typically partnered Xhaka in those situations, which is very suboptimal against set defenses and counter attacking teams.


A lot of fans are putting too much stock in the cup run. It was great but it also was a small sample set where everything came together – we had a dose of luck, players playing at their absolute best at the same time & had switched to a new system the other big clubs hadn’t figured out quite yet.


And we also had a bunch of piss poor league results happening at the same time that Dani started in (3-2 win against Watford that was pretty awful and lucky, 1-0 loss to Villa, 2-1 loss to Brighton, 2-1 loss to S***s). Add to that this year 2-1 loss Everton (tried to control possession and tempo – failed), 1-1 Southhampton (dito), 2nd half of 2-0 s***s (dito), 2-1 loss wolves (dito), Leeds 0-0 (dito), 2nd half 3-0 loss to villa (dito), Leicester 1-0 (dito), Man $ity 1-0, 2-1 win over blades (a massive struggle), 2-1 win Hammers (lucky). Not saying… Read more »


I lowkey disagree with that, sometimes you buy for potential as well in hope that the player gains consistency. Consistency alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re at the right level for the club.In Ceballos own case, I feel he’s been slightly miscast as a holding mid when his actual game requires more freedom. Rectify that and we may or may not see more consistency. And for the record I’m personally leaning against signing him because (a) it sounds like he’ll be expensive for his current ability level and (b) it sounds like his heart is set on trying to get into… Read more »


He isn’t a true 8 and lacks both power defensively and range of passing to be a deep lying playmaker. He cannot cover the ground unless Arsenal dominates possession or defends in a compact, low block. The only place he would really shine is further forward, where he played for Spain age groups, I believe, but the club doesn’t need him there. I think he is a bit of a square peg in a club that only has round holes at the moment.


This is his problem…he is just very inconsistent. But we have many like him, who get too comfortable with their place in the squad and when they have a competition or they need to up their game for contractual reasons, they turn up with quality performance. Leno, Tierney , Martinelli even Torreira are the only few ones who give it all regardless of the situation around them. We need more of the latter and players who play in patches just need to be moved on.


His problem is that this mercenary doesn’t give a s*** for the badge. He is only here to have game time to be selected by the Spain national coach.

Don Cazorleone

Not so much a problem as it is mutually beneficial. Which is rather the point of a loan.


Alex – ‘it’s disgusting the ‘hate’ people throw at Ozil’
Also Alex (same one!) – throws ‘hate’ relentlessly at any Arsenal player who even remotely plays in a similar position to Ozil


The Far Post

Look how he celebrated Laca’s first goal, in which he was mostly a spectator… (He appeared in the lower left corner starting 0.15). He might be a loaned player, but I think he cares when the team does well.


To be fair, WHEN we score, if you watch Dani celebrate you can tell it means something to him. One of the goals in this game he was on the floor pounding the floor in joy. Bit harsh to call him a mercenary when he wanted to come here out of any where when he was told to go back out on loan. I don’t mind him but won’t be particularly sad when he eventually goes, however, I’ll support him whilst he’s here.


look man, I love ozil and sometimes the things you write make sense, but why don’t you watch ceballos celebrate the third goal against wba with your eyes open.


I’d urge you to rewatch the highlights of the West brom game. The first angle shown of the 3rd goal you can see Dani sink to his knees and pump his fists. It took a little;e while to work out it was him from other angles. I just don’t think that kind of emotion is in line with the mercenary tag. I mean I was a little surprised myself. But you can see genuine hunger there to win. He knew that 3rd goal meant game over. And that was a relief for him.

A Different George

There is nothing inconsistent about his wanting to play for Madrid and being fiercely competitive every time he plays for anyone, including Arsenal. He–like almost every player who reaches an elite level–is intensely competitive, wants to beat his man, win every match, win the cup, win the league, play for his country. Maybe that ebbs by the time you are in your 30’s, maybe there are special cases (someone so supremely gifted they would succeed even with little desire–but really, don’t you think Messi and Ronaldo are competitive?), but Dani Ceballos is neither of those. He desperately wants to win.


His performances has been influenced by our team performances, which have been awful most of the time. Now we are looking better and we have started to go forward and move the ball faster, which is giving Ceballos more options and better playing conditions 🔴⚪️


“His performances (have) been influenced by our team’s performances….”

Has it ever actually crossed your mind that his performances may well have affected the team’s performances….

Heavenly Chapecoense

His failure is that we have experienced a total lack of creativity with him in the team.


Easy mate.

You’ll upset all the fairies at the bottom of the garden with inferences that our midfield this season has been anything less than perfect

Perry Farrell’s Satellite Partey

Does adding “at the bottom of the garden” make this something other than casual homophobia? Considering the source, I’m guessing no.


Dear God. It’s an expression of people who aren’t realistic. ‘Away with the fairies’ is another. It has nothing remotely to do with homophobia.

This site just gets worse by the day.

Johnny 4 Hats

“Dear God”??? That’s not very sensitive to the atheists.

For shame.




Look up Cottingley Fairies. Whilst I can’t see that it makes any sense whatsoever I also can’t see that it has anything to do with homophobia

Man Manny

That is the point: “those funds could be directed better elsewhere.”
Or, better still, promote one of the Hale End guys.


The issue with Ceballos is that while he is talented, he does not dictate play. He does not seem to have footballing personality and is easily influenced by his surroundings. When we are good, he is decent. When we are shit, he is not going to pull us out of it. A more talented El Neny in that sense.

Tete a rteta

Here Here…. I roundly approve your prolepsis!

Johnny 4 Hats

How do you know about my bowel condition?


To be honest, if he can find consistency and his wages are not that big (which they aren’t if I’m right) I’d have no problem with a 3rd, 4th and 5th loan deal as long as it saves us money to invest in other departments and enables us to get a few millions in for the likes of Elneny. Although I know it’s not that realistic.


Depends upon how long Zidane is there, of course. If he wins the CL (the ultimate benchmark for Madrid coaches), then he’ll be around for a while longer. If he doesn’t, Madrid President Perez (the only power at the club) will have him out. If so, Ceballos could make the return that he obviously wants. That said, if Perez thinks in the meantime they can cash in on him with little detriment to Madrid, he’ll be sold probably to another La Liga club, as you say.


Dani plays in a more attacking role for Spain and when he played for Real. The problem is with the position in which he’s being asked to play next to a holding midfielder. He’s no longer making those late run in to the box which he used to under Emery.

No a wonder a two footed Cazorla with all the skills and tricks was asked to play as CM/ CEM next to Le Coq due to injury yet he still had better attacking stats.


Yes, who could forget that time under Emery, when Ceballos was banging them in left right and center!


As long as his future isn’t with us, I couldn’t give a toss what happens.

Da Boss

Fair play – hopefully he gives everything until the end of the season to try and force his way into the Spain squad and into Zidane’s good books. Not sure he’s someone we should be spending more money on as permanent signing, but definitely a good squad player for this season.


And that’s all you want from a loan signing isn’t it? It’s a very favourable situation for us. He’s a good footballer, he is very motivated, he fits Arteta’s system to a degree, but he’s not a Santi Cazorla. He’s replaceable, and in certain attributes (tackling and athleticism) we can even upgrade. Next transfer window we pursue a perfect foil for Partey.


He is ok as a player,had a good speel of good games at the end of last season and fa cup for sure.i think we do not need him next season as we have home grown talented players like ESR,Nelson,Nilles etc,etc.


Hope he decides to stay. Hes not been incredible, but the poor performances hes had, has been when played alongside Elneny. And i think thats simply because they dont compliment eachothers qualities well. An ideal midfield for me is him and Partey, with ESR in front of them. He has some x-factor to his game, which imo makes him more of a ‘big team’ player, than Xhaka and Elneny.


Wish he would stay too, but he sounds more like he wants to go back to Madrid at the end of the year. Let’s see what happens between now and June.


Not good enough for this club. Bang average at best and one of the major reasons we are in the bottom half of the table.

The sooner he buggers off back to Madrid, the better.


Are you talking about Mesut here? Sorry you didn’t mention a name, so I’m guessing you mean mesut. On that I agree, I wish he’d bugger off back to Madrid too.


So you think Ozil is one of the major reasons we are in the bottom half of the table, when the sole number of minutes that he has played is 0….?

Oh, sorry, my apologies, this was your attempt at a witty response.

*Slow hand clap.

A Different George

There is a very irritating thing going on, which I hope will not continue on and on. Pro-Ozil means Ceballos (and anyone else in that position) is shit; anti-Ozil thinks Ceballos is as good as DeBruyne. I am one of those who admires Ozil a lot. I also am pretty sure that he will never play for Arsenal again. That chapter is done. Let’s think about Ceballos’ value partnering Partey, or instead of (or with) Smith-Rowe, or Xhaka, or even with the possibility of bringing in a new creative number 10 or genuine number 8. And if we get a… Read more »


First of all, Patrick Vieira was a number 4, a defensive midfielder – not a number 8 attacking midfielder. Secondly, I don’t particularly wish to think of Ceballos having ‘value’ because I don’t think he possesses any – not to Arsenal Football Club anyway. As for Mesut Ozil, I’m perfectly aware that the current ‘manager’ has not the faintest inclination of using him. It would mean backing down, showing some humility and effectively admitting he was wrong to drop Ozil in the first place – despite us making our worst start for 40 years because of it. Still, at least… Read more »

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

All of our problems are happening because we dropped Ozil?

So if we bring him back we should become unbeatable.

What kind of cretins run Arsenal?

Thankyou for explaining to me how football works.

Cultured Determination

He’s saying he wants to go back. Noone can fault him cos madrid is a bigger team than us. He hasnt been good for us (except the last game). Been very average or below average in the rest of the games this season. I say give AMN a chance in CM alongside partey if we think we can develop him, or get someone in.
Oh. And no xhaka please.

Perry Farrell’s Satellite Partey

What else is he supposed to say in his situation ? “I can’t wait to fuck off from Madrid, the club that owns my contract for two more years”? If an Arsenal player on loan* said “I’d love to leave Arsenal and keep plying my trade here at Millwall,” this discussion board would be filled with torches and pitchforks.

* Mustafi and Willian excepted.


When he’s good he’s very very good. Maybe with the squads upturn in form we might get more from him. I definitely think he’s got the highest ceiling of our older crop of midfielders (ESR and Partey aside, as new arrivals who aren’t proven but seem genuinely good). I was hugely relieved when he extended in the summer. I guess the question is: is he the complete player now or is there more to come? And could something be tweaked tactically to get more from him creatively?

Public Elneny

Runners and movement! You can’t really create if the runs just aren’t there to find, all you can do is hit and hope into the box, or try to drive through yourself. Hopefully Martinelli, ESR and Saka on the right will help massively with that

I’m convinced we would have made far lighter work of Brighton if he was on the pitch instead of Elneny or Xhaka


We are wasting value game time willock should be getting on Dani especially as a 8. I know people are going to say he hasn’t been great whenever he gets a chance but other than the Europa league games where he has performed, he never gets in that box to box position in the league games minutes he had. Willock is not a 10. I don’t know why Arteta insist on playing him there whenever he do get minutes. The boy needs to play where he can face the game more often than not. He have all the raw attributes… Read more »


He plays some good passes. It he is one of those players who routinely takes a lot of touches whilst working out what to do. He is also slow so defences are never.going to be too concerned.about him running at them.


would prefer if we didn’t bring in loan players and actually started to manage player contracts properly. Look at the players who will leave for free at the end of this season and the ones like Laca who will have us over a barrel in the Summer. Edu pull your finger out and start managing contracts properly


Your argument doesn’t really make sense

If we’re loaning players then we have minimal expenditure and don’t have to worry about selling them.


Does anyone know what clauses are in place with players on loan like Ceballos or indeed players we loan out like Saliba, if the season is cancelled / extended etc because of Covid? Things were a mess with Saliba at the end of last season and I would like to think the club now has contingency plans in place, as we live in a Covid world. Similarly, are plans in place if a players contract ends at the end of the season?

Granit(e) hard!

Well, for me, he is not been a poor signing thats for sure, and he does have that wow factor to his game, which when handbrakes are off puts him in my books, creatively a notch ahead of Mo and Xhaka, but which sadly, we have only seen in flashes this season…I agree we are not harnessing the best out of him creatively in his current role and perhaps thats what he was alluding to in his interview as playing a static game?


He’s an average player. He’s nowhere near good enough to play for Real Madrid and I suspect that they regret giving him a longish contract. He’ll probably end up at a club like Villarreal.

He should be sent back to Spain at the end of this season: we shouldn’t even consider buying him. We need to find a quality creative midfielder.

With the expiration of a number of contracts this summer we should be in a strong position to bring in some real quality.

Dave Cee

This is it fats. He doesn’t offer enough going forward or enough defensively. Decent squad filler. Not the long term answer in either department though


Not sure he’ll be in Madrid’s long term plans but good luck to him, hopefully he can muscle his way in on the back of a stellar second half of the season.


I don’t think that there’s much chance of him staying on a permanent basis (even if we wanted him too, which is pretty doubtful now). I imagine that he’s calculating that Zidane will be out at Madrid in due course (like all Madrid coaches, his fate rests, ultimately, on success in the CL and if President Perez thinks you’re not up to it, then you’re out pdq!).


He is too slow for the Premier league


Ndidi was over here 18 months before he started finding his feet Bissouma was here 2 years without really being noticed, then this season he’s starting looking the part. United overpaid for Fred, he looked completely lost in his first 18 months, but now looks like a decent enough player. Ceballos is 24, he’s definitely got ability, it’s just whether we think he can add that next level of consistency, and improve in the types of games where we need to roll our sleeves up. I think there’s a real quality player there, putting better movement in front of him,… Read more »

Public Elneny

He’s a player that will improve as we improve He’s not a Vieira, Gerrard, Y Toure, Ramsey etc. He’s not the sort to drive the team forward on his own. He needs combinations, players he can pass and move with, and who will press hard alongside him I’m not comparing the two, but put prime Xavi into a setup as static and conservative as ours has been, he’d also struggle to affect games positively. His strengths also lie in the combinations Keep Saka on the right with ESR in the 10. Add someone with legs ie Partey alongside him and… Read more »


Yes, but you’re assuming that Madrid will sanction a permanent move. There’s no evidence for that. It’s probably more likely if Zidane stays as coach there, but that is also unknown. Should Madrid get eliminated from the CL I think he’ll be out and Madrid could well recall Ceballos, given that he obviously wants to return to Spain. Basically, it’s all down to factors outside of our control (and outside of this country as well). One thing though – if Ceballos does improve greatly and Madrid are open to a sale, his price will increase as there are almost certainly… Read more »

Public Elneny

He’s already chosen to join us twice, so I don’t see why a 3rd time is unlikely. I think Betis were in for him in the Summer – his boyhood club and a fairly decent side, yet still pushed for a move here He seems to get on with Arteta, so it may depend on whether he’s still around as well as Zidane. I guess Real will probably be looking for a long term Modric replacement this Summer and, being Real, Ceballos probably isn’t a big enough name for them. But with 2 years on his contract, I reckon they’ll… Read more »


But he joined us on loan. There’s all the difference in the world choosing to join another club on loan if you’re not getting playing time with your own club (because of problems with the coach there as seems to be the case here) and joining another club, in another league, in another country on a permanent basis. The fact that Betis were in for him (reportedly) and that, if so, he turned them down doesn’t mean that he’s given up moving back to La Liga – he just may not want to join Betis, that’s all. Other La Liga… Read more »


Prime xavi wouldn’t struggle at all. Ceballos is very average. Will be happy to see him go back to madrid

Public Elneny

If his only passing options are Bellerin, Xhaka, the CBs and Leno, what’s he supposed to do? Playing through balls – no one was making the runs 1/2 touch pass and move – with Xhaka, Bellerin and Willian? Not going to work Dribble through the middle – doesn’t have the pace or power Make runs ahead of the ball himself – not really his game and he’d leave Xhaka exposed Scoring from range – worth an effort but won’t pay off regularly Ghosting in late into the box for cutbacks and headers – maybe for cut backs, but we weren’t… Read more »


Better players make things happen. If our midfield were better on the ball and quicker to see a forward run or could move into space to collect it instead of standing still half the ti me we’d be doing alot better. Comparing ceballos to xavi is fucking laughable

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Our team hasn’t been making many forward runs this season. Those forward runs have to be there to be seen and acted upon, and they need to be sustained. We’ve seen more 2 yard runs than completed ones. It’s like the players were constantly second guessing each other. We just didn’t seem to be able to take advantage of potential openings with any sort of confidence or determination.

I guess that’s what happens when you get into a poor streak.

Hopefully the three wins is enough to kickstart a genuine winning streak.


I can’t really think of another player I’ve been more ambivalent about.

Not great, not terrible.

Stay or leave – don’t care.


He is a good footballer. Maybe not a Premier League football, maybe not in the right team for him or maybe just not being played in the best position for his skill set.
Cannot blame a player for stating a desire to make it at his parent club, would be odd otherwise.

Bendtner’s ego

He may not always have the best of matches, but I’ll never fault him for lack of effort. You can’t always say that about some members of the squad.

Winning brings him joy and losing brings him pain. Kind of like us, really.

Tete a rteta

Mark my words. By the end of the season, if Partey stays healthy, if played much Ceballos will show more consistency and flair. So will Mo. Team balance is an art, with significant science involved. It is not a science with a little art. These are 11 humans together on the pitch at a time. We may lack the resources to compete at the top every season but we are capable of much better in the future. Trust the process, Enjoy the process, Be the process…. COYG!


Was sinking to 15th place in the Premiership part of this joyous ‘process’… ?

Merlin’s Panini

He has A LOT of work to do if he’s to be considered for Real. If he realises that then we should see a massive improvement from him for the rest of the season.


He’s actually one of the brighter sparks in midfield. Displayed plenty of good vision last match. Some people will say ‘not good enough’ but who is better? Elneny? Willock? Even IF we add another in midfield this window, we are so bereft of options. Partey is a plus coming back but he isn’t fully up to speed and too early to say whether he has delivered entirely on promise either (although the indications may be positive) frankly though, I think Arteta needs to play Ceballos higher. With Partey back and Granit in deeper role (plus Elneny to rotate),either of ESR… Read more »


Good to see Arteta (forced to) by desperation stick to a more stable selection over last 3 matches. To me, he’s been tweaking a bit too much at Cback and up top. That’s not to entirely blame him bc he had some injuries in defense some time back and there has been a paucity of product up top. But rotation aside, familiarity breeds a better sense of telepathic understanding between players if some stability in position can be heeded. Laca quite obviously has plenty of better function up top for us than Auba who can play there on occasion but… Read more »


Wonder if he could do a job in a ’10’ role if ESR needs a rest?

Viju Jacob

No idea why his loan was extended, as he clearly has his sights elsewhere.


Because “elsewhere” has currently no use for him.


Good squad player, and potential starter if he can stay focused. We should keep extending his loan deal. No point buying him outright.


I agree with some posts that say ‘when Ceballos is good he’s very very good’. But we don’t see those performances enough yet to be totally convinced. Perhaps this is why Zidane sent him to us on loan. The key questions for me are who is better, and who has the greeter long term upside between him and Guendouzi? I don’t believe Guendouzi’s Arsenal career has to be over. A 21 year old who is overly passionate at times and mischievous at times is standard issue stuff really—not worth ditching him for those issues alone when he still could be… Read more »

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x