MIKEL ARTETA has rejected Dani Ceballos’ demands to return to Real Madrid and urged the player to fight for his Arsenal first-team place.
The Spanish midfielder has grown fed up with his lack of game time and expressed his desire to end his Arsenal loan from Los Blancos early so he can go back to the capital.
But Gunners boss Arteta said: “I had a conversation with Dani. When I joined the club he wasn’t here, he was in Madrid because he was doing his rehab for over a month with the team that owns him.
“When I came here he was doing his rehab in the first two or three weeks, getting back to fitness, and I haven’t seen much of him because he only trained with us for a week or 10 days.
“It’s very early to assess what I can or cannot do with him. I heard about all those things but I have nothing to comment.”
Ceballos made an immediate impact at the start of this season under previous Arsenal boss Unai Emery.
But a muscle injury marred his season, ruling him out for two months.
He returned to the Spanish capital for treatment.
Since his return to England he has not been able to force his way back into Arteta’s plans with his fellow Spaniard preferring Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil and Lucas Torreira in midfield.
Arteta is reportedly targeting a move for Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Lemar, which could squeeze out Ceballos further.
Lemar, 24, joined Atleti in a 52million deal from Monaco in 2018.
But it is thought that boss Diego Simeone wants to free up some cash to bring in striker Edinson Cavani.