Dani Ceballos has been urged to focus on his fitness and fight for his place in the Arsenal team amid suggestions that he wants to bring an early end to his loan from Real Madrid.
Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal head coach, would not comment on the reports of the 23-year-old’s unhappiness but said it was within the player’s power to compete for a place in the starting lineup.
Ceballos impressed at the start of the campaign but has not featured for Arsenal since suffering a hamstring injury in November.
Cancelling his loan would be immensely complicated, given the fees and wages involved, and it would also leave Arsenal short in midfield, a position in which they are already hoping to recruit a new signing.
"When I joined the club he was having his rehabilitation in Madrid for a month so I haven't seen much of him because he only trained with us a week or 10 days, so it's very early to assess what I can and cannot do with him,” said Arteta.
"I heard of all of those things [speculation about a move] but I don't have a comment. He needs to get back to fitness and fight for his place. After that, I will make the selection that I feel is best for the team."
Ceballos could make his first appearance under Arteta in Monday’s FA Cup match at Bournemouth, where Arsenal will once again be without the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Meanwhile, Arteta said he is “50:50” when asked how hopeful he is that Arsenal will complete a signing in this transfer window. They have been in talks with PSG left-back Layvin Kurzawa and have also been linked with Ukraine defender Mykola Matviyenko.
The 23-year-old’s agent has said he has been contacted by Arsenal, although the north London club have limited funds this month so any permanent deal would be financially complicated.
“I only want to bring somebody in if I'm really convinced that he can really improve the level that we have,” said Arteta.