Though Dani Ceballos expected to play more than he has at Real Madrid following his move from Real Betis, he is not willing to give up on his dream of featuring for the capital club.
The talented midfielder made the switch to the Santiago Bernabeu at the start of the season after an eye-catching campaign with hometown club Betis.
Madrid paid a reported €16.5 million for the 21-year-old, as their transfer policy appeared to focus on players tipped for future stardom.
But he has played just nine times in La Liga, with only two of those outings coming as a starter, and he cannot hide that it has been frustrating.
Speculation in January suggested Ceballos was a loan target for former club Betis and, although the midfielder acknowledged having contact with their coach Quique Setien, he is not giving up on a career at the Bernabeu just yet.
“It’s true that at Christmas he [Setien] made contact with me,” Ceballos told Deportes Cuatro. “But my idea was clear, which is to stay in Madrid.
“By the end of the season many things can happen. I have a contract in Madrid. Nothing and no one is going to take away my hope.”
A brief cameo at the end of a 3-1 win over Leganes in February was particularly disheartening, but he insists it has not caused a falling out with Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane. Instead, Ceballos said the manager actually apologized following that match.
“It was a very hard moment, because you play only for 30 seconds and then you arrive home and you’re exhausted,” Ceballos added.
“But many players would like to play for just 30 seconds at Real Madrid, and in the next training he [Zidane] asked for forgiveness – everything is resolved.
“I expected to play more, it’s true. My intention is to continue working, get the most out of myself so that when the coach gives me opportunities I can take advantage of it.”