Dani Ceballos has paid tribute to Mikel Arteta after bidding farewell to Arsenal, predicting the Spanish coach will be “one of the best in the world” in the years to come.
The 24-year-old had enjoyed an impressive debut campaign in the Premier League under Unai Emery and then Arteta despite Arsenal finishing in eighth position.
His performances not only squeezed Mesut Ozil out of the first-team fold but convinced the club to extend his loan for a second season.
However, the playmaker has brought an end to his two-year stint in north London after a disappointing campaign with the Gunners, where he made 40 appearances in all competitions without scoring a single goal.
The midfielder started only 17 games in the Premier League to highlight his slide down the pecking order, with Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe coming into the team at his expense.
It is also understood that Arsenal are more keen on keeping Martin Odegaard, the Norwegian who is also contracted to Real Madrid, at the Emirates Stadium this summer.
But Ceballos holds no ill feeling towards Arteta, having won the FA Cup under his guidance in 2020, and has backed the 39-year-old to become a managerial great.
“Arteta is a coach who I am sure will be one of the best in the world in the next few years, but I would like to return to the Spanish league,” he told El Larguero.
Despite Ceballos’ praise, the jury is still out on whether Arteta has made progress at Arsenal and their Europa League semi-final defeat to Villarreal summarised the difficult task he has in turning around their fortunes.
Ceballos, meanwhile, will head back to the Santiago Bernabeu with the objective of impressing new coach Carlo Ancelotti, who replaced Zinedine Zidane earlier this month.
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The Italian returns to the helm in the Spanish capital six years after he was sacked by president Florentino Perez.
Having been assured of his long-term future with Los Blancos under Zidane, Ceballos has revealed he will hold talks with Ancelotti hinting that he will not settle for a bit-part role.
“Zidane was always very clear with me. He told me that he was a player for the future at Real Madrid,” he added.
“I asked him to leave on loan the first year and he told me that a year at Real Madrid was like eight years away. He was right.
“The first thing is to talk to the coach [Ancelotti]. What I want is to be important, I have missed the [Spain squad for the] Euros.
“I will make it clear to the coach that I want to feel important every Sunday.”