Arsenal seemed on track to secure another season of Dani Ceballos on loan but it’s now being reported that Real Madrid want to keep the player for next season, but do they really?

Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal gives Dani Ceballos of Arsenal instructions during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Everton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.
LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal gives Dani Ceballos of Arsenal instructions during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Everton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Dani Ceballos did not enjoy the best loan spell in London before the break. Had the world carried on as normal, there is every chance he would have returned to Real Madrid having failed to make the Spain squad for the Euros, which was his main aim.

Of course, the player has also stated frequently that he wants to make a career for himself at Real Madrid, but that is not an easy thing to do, especially when you have a manager who doesn’t seem best keen on you.

The story, as it stands, is that Real Madrid, after their elimination from the Champions League are reassessing their options for next season with money growing ever tighter for clubs around the world. As a result, they’ve stopped all negotiations with Arsenal, which were said to be close to a deal, and now want to look at Ceballos in pre-season.

That’s according to AS in Spain. It seems Mikel Arteta sparking some life out of the player, who said he signed for Arsenal over Liverpool because of Unai Emery, has alerted the La Liga Champions to his potential.

Given they paid £14.85m to Real Betis for him in 2017, I think we can assume they already knew he might not be a bad player.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 01: Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal , Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal and Dani Ceballos of Arsenal pose with the FA Cup Trophy after their teams victory in the Heads Up FA Cup Final match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on August 01, 2020 in London, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Zinedine Zidane was manager when they brought Ceballos to the club but in his first season he played only 396 league minutes, scoring two goals in 12 appearances. Ceballos started just four matches in La Liga and played the full 90 just once that season. In fact, he played more minutes in the Copa del Rey than he did the league (411).

Things improved in his second season with 1,245 league minutes across 23 games. Ceballos started 13 of those but still only completed 90 minutes in the league five times.

Speaking last summer, Zidane explained why he had sent the midfielder on loan to Arsenal.

“No, it’s not that I did not get along with Dani Ceballos that he left the team,” Zidane said. “I think he needed a lot more play[ing time] because he’s an important player.

“It’s true that at Real, he did not have enough minutes, that’s all. There are a lot of players here, a lot of competition. I wish him to play many games and do well with his new team, Arsenal.”

That doesn’t really sound like Zidane has an issue with Ceballos, but still the rumours persisted right up until this summer that if Zidane remained, Ceballos would leave.

So what’s the truth?

Real Madrid's French coach Zinedine Zidane (L) and Real Madrid's Spanish midfielder Daniel Ceballos greet supporters from the balcony of the headquarters of the regional government of Madrid at the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid on May 27, 2018 as they celebrate their third Champions League title in a row in Kiev. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

As with most things in life, it’s probably a little bit of everything.

Zidane clearly saw enough in Ceballos to buy him in the first place but not enough when he made the step up from Betis to warrant giving him a regular first team spot. Zidane even gave him two seasons to show himself before sending him on loan.

Usually, being sent on loan when you’re Ceballos’ age is the death-knell for your time at your parent club, but not always. This could well be one of those times, but much depends on Real Madrid’s finances and what Zidane has seen from Ceballos under Arteta.

The player will also need to do some soul searching. The promise of football at Real Madrid is all very well and good, but will it be his reality? With Euro 2020 moved to next summer, Ceballos still has a chance of making the Spain squad, but to do that he will need to play regularly and well.

His selection will be nailed on if he becomes a first-team starter at the Bernabeu, but that’s a big ‘if’.

Will Ceballos be willing to take that gamble?