Arsenal are in talks with Real Madrid to keep midfielder Dani Ceballos.
The Spain international has spent the current campaign on loan at the Emirates, having been unwanted by Zinedine Zidane in the Spanish capital.
After an initially mixed start in North London, amid injury concerns, Ceballos has emerged as a key player in Mikel Arteta’s new-look side, shining in their recent revival.
Arteta had urged the player to “take a step forwards” in January, effectively calling on him to prove his worth.
And Ceballos has done just that since the Premier League’s restart, scoring the late FA Cup winner against Sheffield United and stepping up as Matteo Guendouzi has been sidelined.
Now Arteta appears convinced of his potential for the long-term.
“Yeah, we are talking to the club,” Arteta said when asked if he was aiming to retain Ceballos’s services.
“Obviously we don’t own the player, he’s not in our hands so the clubs will need to have a communication and see what we can do.
“I’m really happy with him, the way he’s evolving, and I love how much he likes to play football – the passion he puts into every training session and every game, you just have to see his celebrations.
“I think he’s evolving in the right way and he’s becoming a really important player for us.”
Ceballos’ deal in Madrid runs until 2023, but Los Blancos are open to cashing in on the former Real Betis man. He is currently due to return to the Spanish capital in August.
Arsenal’s financial situation means that they need to be creative in the market the summer however – potentially with player exchanges.
Arteta admitted: “We have to be open to different situations. And I think the market will give us the opportunity to do certain deals like this [swaps] but at the moment I cannot comment on any of that.”
The Gunners face Leicester City on Tuesday night, as they look to claim a fifth straight success, following the 2-0 weekend win at Wolves.
Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.