Dani Ceballos managed to divide much of the Arsenal faithful during his two-year loan stint with the Gunners, providing a few flashes of brilliance but ultimately enduring more low moments than he would have liked – including almost every Europa League knockout game this season.
Ceballos sparked a frenzy of excitement after his full Arsenal debut at home to Burnley in the opening exchanges of the 2019/20 season, sparking comparisons with Emirates cult hero Santi Cazorla given the pair’s similar dribbling styles.
However, Ceballos will look back on his time in England with mixed emotions – notching just two goals over the course of two full campaigns, both of which came outside of the Premier League.
After plenty of speculation in between seasons one and two over where Ceballos would play his football in 2020/21, his departure this time around seemed a foregone conclusion, with his recent showings in the Europa League tarnishing his Arsenal ‘legacy’.
The 24-year-old was guilty of a number of errors that lead to opposition goals in the knockout stages, most notably in the second leg against Benfica, but his teammates managed to spare his blushes.
His luck ran out in the semi-final stage, where Ceballos received a red card against Villarreal during the first-leg 2-1 defeat.
Coincidentally coming against the manager who first lured Ceballos to the Emirates, Unai Emery guided the ‘Yellow Submarine’ to victory over the Gunners after the second-leg ended 0-0, with Ceballos forced to watch helpless through suspension.
The midfielder is now expected to return to parent club Real Madrid, though it remains unclear whether manager Zinedine Zidane seems Ceballos as part of his plans moving forward with Los Blancos.
Despite ending under less than ideal circumstances, Ceballos parted ways with Gunners fans with a touching tribute, taking to Instagram to say: “Thanks Arsenal and thanks to all Gunners.
“For welcoming me with so much love from the very first day I wore this jersey. For letting me experience the feeling of being a Gunner and allowing me to be a part of your family all this time.
“A complicated year – for many reasons- has come to its end. Especially for having missed the chance of living home matches in the Emirates with our supporters. Still, I assure you that I will never forget your warmth and support in every moment.
“I am sure that Arsenal, being a historic and great team, will soon be back on top, winning championships and being a reference as it is and always has been. This club, and especially its supporters, deserve it, and I am confident that they will achieve it.
“Thanks to all those people who are part of the team: coaches, kit men, medical staff, communications and marketing team, employees, managers and especially the supporters. All those persons who so often work quietly giving all they have for this great club. I want you to know that I have always worked very hard and tried my very best for this crest and this jersey.
“I wish you all the best and the success that I’m sure will come. Let’s go Gunners! GOODBYE. THANKS FOR ALL!”
The post was accompanied with a number of pictures documenting Ceballos’ Arsenal highlights, including their FA Cup success last season, helped by his vital last-gasp goal in the quarter-final stage against Sheffield United.