Dani Ceballos is already impressing Arsenal fans, but could his fractured relationship with Zinedine Zidane help Unai Emery secure a permanent deal?
During a hectic transfer window in north London, the Gunners bagged the Spaniard on a season-long loan from Real Madrid.
It looked like a shrewd bit of business from the Arsenal hierarchy as they looked to save cash and source a replacement for Aaron Ramsey.
Ceballos is still highly rated by coaches at the Bernabeu but he’d only been a bit-part player at the club.
Regardless of his limited minutes in a Real shirt, during a virtuoso Arsenal home debut against Burnley his natural ability was glaringly obvious.
But unfortunately for Arsenal, a purchase option is not included in their current agreement with Real.
The better Ceballos plays this season, the more unlikely it could be that he remains in north London.
It’s a cruel twist for the Emirates faithful.
The Premier League giants have effectively become part finishing school and shop window for Real.
Arsenal supporters could have one key glimmer of hope, but it depends on internal politics at the Bernabeu.
Real supremo Florentino Perez might want Ceballos to remain a Real player, but Zidane doesn’t get on with the Spain international.
Relations between the duo have often be fraught – to say the least.
The 23-year-old bagged a brace on his first start against Alaves in 2017.
However, following his dazzling display he then wasn’t selected again by Zidane for a whole month.
Real have an array of midfield superstars on their books, but it seemed an odd piece of man management from the French boss.
A few months later, in February 2018, Zidane told the former Real Betis ace to play a humiliating cameo.
With Los Blancos 3-1 up in injury time against Leganes, he sent on Ceballos for the final 20 seconds of the fixture.
“He didn’t give me a chance,” Ceballos said after the match.
“I worked hard, but there comes a moment at which you see it’s impossible.
“Even when [Toni] Kroos and [Luka] Modric were injured, he changed the system and played other people. That hurts. It burns you a bit.”
It’s still early days for Ceballos and Arsenal this season.
Both the midfielder – and the team as a whole – looked off the pace against Liverpool on Saturday.
Nevertheless, with their recruitment dream team of Raul Sanllehi and Edu, things are looking up.
If they plan to purchase Ceballos, it might be worth subtly reminding Real that rifts between players and managers are rarely a recipe for success.