Arsenal loan star Dani Ceballos could be the key to whether or not Real Madrid eventually sign long-standing target Paul Pogba from Manchester United.
That is according to transfer expert Duncan Castles, who thinks that Ceballos could go back to the Bernabeu and be a starter should he continue to impress under Unai Emery.
Ceballos will spend this season on loan with the Gunners after being told he would not be part of Zinedine Zidane’s squad at Real Madrid.
Los Blancos have spent close to £300m this summer with Zidane embarking on a squad overhaul, but Pogba is still the missing piece of the jigsaw.
Rumours have circulated for months about the France international’s future at Old Trafford and Zidane is a keen admirer.
But with just days remaining in the summer transfer window for European clubs to sign players it now looks unlikely that a deal will be struck.
Ceballos put in a man-of-the-match performance on his full Arsenal debut in the 2-1 win over Burnley on Saturday and could turn out to be an asset for them this season.
And, according to Castles, he could then go back to Real Madrid and play a part in the first team next season, leaving no space for Pogba.
“You have to factor in things like Dani Ceballos, who has already I think demonstrated his qualities in his first full game for Arsenal,” Castles told the Transfer Window Podcast.
“Zidane did not want Ceballos in the squad in the sense that Ceballos was pushing for regular playing time and Zidane felt he couldn’t give him that.
“He was hoping to selling the player and Florentino Perez’s position was ‘we do not sell a player of this quality, I’ll allow him to go on loan for a season to a top club, to get him playing time, but there will be no option to buy in that deal, because I know how good the player is’.
“If Ceballos continues the way he has started at Arsenal and in the fashion that a lot of people expect him to perform at Arsenal, then he is obviously going to be a strong candidate to go back to Madrid in a year’s time and be a key player in their midfield next season.
“In which case you would have to ask the question if someone like Pogba is necessary or not.”
The transfer window for clubs in Spain to sign players slams shut on September 2 but United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has insisted that the Pogba will not be sold anyway.
The Red Devils have already lost Ander Herrera to Paris Saint-Germain this summer and selling Pogba would be a massive blow with no replacements able to come in.
Ceballos and Arsenal travel to Liverpool on Saturday as they look to continue their perfect start to the Premier League season.
Should the Spaniard continue to impress in his loan spell it will be interesting to see what Real Madrid would do with him next summer