Arsenal loanee Dani Ceballos has opened up on a variety of topics, ranging from how Zinedine Zidane froze him out at Real Madrid to his delight at being in north London.
Unai Emery’s side forked out £15m to bring the playmaker to the Emirates Stadium for 2019/20, securing his services despite interest from a number of other clubs. The Spaniard was superb on his Premier League debut versus Burnley, instantly earning the adoration of his new supporters.
Speaking to the Guardian in a comprehensive interview, Ceballos said: “I’m very grateful [to hear the fans chanting my name]. It was my first day and it was as if I’d been playing in England ten years.
“I love the city, I love the Premier League and love Arsenal. I’m just really, really happy to be part of this great club.
“I’ve hardly noticed any difference in size between Real Madrid and Arsenal. And the fans are very passionate, they love the players. It’s much easier to adapt because they make you feel like you’ve been at the club forever. I love the way everyone’s treated me.”
Asked about his lack of game time with Los Blancos, the 23-year-old explained: “There comes a time when you see it’s impossible: there were times when [Toni] Kroos and [Luka] Modric were injured and he’d change the system to put others in.”
Whilst he struggled to impress Zinedine Zidane, Ceballos is much more pleased with his treatment by Unai Emery. He said on the matter: “Knowing the coach believes in you is 60% of it, knowing that if you make a mistake he’ll back you.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by his work. When you have the coach’s confidence it’s much easier to perform. I want to repay that. We, footballers, have feelings, just like anyone else. We have our low moments and you have to be very strong mentally. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.
“You have to be realistic,” Ceballos says. “The two good games I’ve had so far for Arsenal I never had in two years at Madrid. I didn’t play a lot but it’s also true that, when I played, I didn’t play as I can. That’s related to confidence, but you have to be self-critical.
“You can compare [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang to [Cristiano [Ronaldo] when he was at Madrid in the sense that he plays close to the goal, he lives for scoring. [Nicolas] Pépé is very direct.
“[Alexandre] Lacazette, for me, is the best player: he understands the game perfectly and, if he’s 100%, he’s going to give us so much.
“We’re working on some similar things [to Liverpool], but Jürgen Klopp arrived [there] in 2015. Unai came last season.
“Arsenal finished a point short of the Champions League and a small step from winning the Europa League; his arrival will be positive. In a few years Arsenal will be in the top ten teams globally, competing for everything.”