Arsenal keeping keen eye on familiar midfielder as decision drags on

Arsenal are still keeping tabs on Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos despite not signing him permanently after a two-year loan, according to reports.

Madrid lent Ceballos to Arsenal for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. He made 77 appearances across that time, contributing two goals and five assists. At the end of his spell in north London, though – while teammate Martin Odegaard stuck around for good after a similar situation – Ceballos returned to the Spanish capital.

Ceballos is yet to play since due to an ankle injury he picked up in the summer. When he becomes available again, he faces a battle to establish himself back in the Real midfield.

Carlo Ancelotti prefers to use a starting trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. Then, in reserve, Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga are more than useful.

There is therefore a lot of work for Ceballos to do in order to force his way into Ancelotti’s plans. Ultimately, it seems his long-term future will lie away from the Bernabeu.

According to El Nacional, the next couple of months will be decisive for Ceballos to convince Ancelotti to integrate him into the setup. Should things not go to plan, though, there are a number of clubs on alert.

The main suitors for Ceballos’ signature are Real Betis, his former club of 105 appearances. The Seville-based side allowed him to step into senior football and developed him until he was ready for the leap to Madrid in 2017.

Now, they want to take him back in a move that would boost their chances of finishing in the European places. They have made a good start to the current season and are in the top four after their first 11 games.

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Adding Ceballos to their squad would seemingly be beneficial for all parties. But they are not the only of his former clubs keeping an eye on him.

Arsenal considering Ceballos again?

The report from El Nacional also said that Arsenal were still watching him and are in fact “very attentive”. Although they decided against keeping him on a permanent basis at first, their plans may be changing upon reflection.

Mikel Arteta must have seen something he liked in Ceballos to consider a reunion. The price would have to be right for the Gunners, though.

They are facing a shortage in midfield ahead of the January transfer window. Granit Xhaka is injured, Thomas Partey is due to take part in the African Cup of Nations, as is Mohamed Elneny – who along with academy graduate Ainsley Maitland-Niles has indicated a desire to leave anyway.

A return for Ceballos may help replenish the depth, although it seems his preference would be a move back to Betis.

He has also been linked with a new adventure in Italy with either Juventus or Roma.

It is not yet clear how much a move for Ceballos may cost for his suitors. With a contract expiring in 2023, though, he may be available for a reasonable price.

At the age of 25, his choice of next club could be a crucial one for his career trajectory.

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