Dani Ceballos has had a hot and cold loan campaign with Arsenal that’s mirrored the Gunners’ rollercoaster ride of a season in 19/20.
Rise, fall, and rise again
Once seen as one of Los Blancos’ hottest prospects, it seems unlikely that a return to the Spanish Capital is on the cards. At the 2017 U21 Euros, he won Player of the Tournament for his dazzling performances, showcasing his outstanding ability to dribble and run with the ball.
Ceballos was highly sought after when Real Madrid first snapped him up from Real Betis in the following months. Unfortunately, Ceballos failed to go from strength to strength.
He followed up a Champions League-winning campaign with an underwhelming season in which he failed to take advantage of increased opportunities.
Now, with Real Madrid boasting young midfield talents such as Fede Valverde and Martin Odegaard, it’s likely Ceballos will be deemed surplus to requirements by the Spanish giants. His market value has dropped nearly 30% during his loan spell in North London.
A solid start to the season was interrupted by injury, poor form, and the sacking of Unai Emery. Ceballos often looked out of his depth in the Premier League, failing to make an impact in most games.
Under Arteta’s instruction, however, he’s beginning to look a completely different player.
Since returning from the layoff, Ceballos has been one of Arsenal’s best players. He’s beginning to form a reliable partnership in a midfield double-pivot with Granit Xhaka.
Ceballos’s ability to dribble through trouble and advance the ball has proven incredibly valuable as a deep-lying playmaker.
Scoring the last-minute winner in the F.A. Cup quarterfinal tie vs. Sheffield United to send the Gunners back to Wembley looks to have done wonders for his confidence, as he followed it up with an even better performance on Wednesday.
Brilliant Performance vs. Norwich
Against Norwich City, Ceballos had more touches than any player on the pitch. He also drew 4 fouls, won 4 interceptions, and added two dribbles and a key pass to round out a complete midfield performance.
He demanded the ball as Arsenal played out from the back and looked comfortable dealing with pressure from Norwich. Bar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored his 50th and 51st Premier League goals, Ceballos had a strong argument for MOTM.
He was central to everything good that Arsenal created in their convincing 4-0 victory over the Canaries.
Why Arsenal should secure his signature
These types of performances will be sure to excite Arteta. As Pep Guardiola’s ex-prodigy, the style of football he’s trying to bring to Arsenal suits Ceballos perfectly.
Dani’s quick and agile movement, crisp passing, and willingness to look forward fit Arteta’s total football strategy like a glove. He looks to be getting more out of him from a work-rate and defensive perspective as well.
Arsenal have a long heritage of Spanish playmakers in midfield. Cesc Fabregas, current manager Mikel Arteta, and Santi Cazorla have been some of the club’s best performers over the last fifteen years. The supporters have adored having that Spanish flair in the team. They’ll be hoping that Ceballos could be the next in line.
It’s likely that a potential transfer fee for Ceballos could be sizable, especially if his form continues this upward trend. However, Arteta will be hard-pressed to find a better midfielder of his ilk on the transfer market. There certainly isn’t another like him in the squad.
Still just twenty-three-years-old, Ceballos would be the perfect first permanent deal to kick-start Arteta’s rebuild challenge.