Premier League: What loan signing Dani Ceballos brings to Arsenal
Unai Emery has been a long-time admirer of the youngster since his days at Real Betis. He continued to watch his development up until this summer’s U21s European Championships.
Ceballos is one of Spain’s most promising young talents. Aged 22, he has impressed everywhere he’s gone, and his playing ability is there for all to see.
This signing couldn’t have come at a better time for the Gunners, as they look to replace the departed Aaron Ramsey. However, the Spaniard is a little different from the Welshman
The youthful exuberance of Ceballos will bring a new dimension to the Emirates. His addition to the squad gives Unai Emery more tactical diversity because the Spaniard can play in a number of systems / formations.
The 22-year-old Spaniard is a versatile midfielder who, as Emery stated himself, can play as either an #8 or #10. Some would even describe him as a more versatile Isco.
Just imagine a midfield trio of Mattéo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Dani Ceballos; that’s a trio filled with energy and technical ability. Most importantly for Emery, this midfield would be the gegenpressing engine of the philosophy he wants to implement at the Emirates.
Ceballos brings a much different skill-set to Arsenal than what Ramsey did. Yes, Ramsey was intelligent in his movement, but Ceballos has that plus the ability to create from deep - something Arsenal have lacked recently.
Final third penetration
As a diminutive playmaker, Ceballos has shown he possesses the ideal skill set to unlock low-block defences. This is one department the Gunners have been lacking in, especially over the course of last season. Often against teams of a park-the-bus nature, Emery’s men have struggled to find breakthroughs.
Last season, Arsenal’s main source of chance creation came through the full-backs being high and wide and then cutting back crosses for teammates making timed runs into the box. When opponents doubled up on the flanks, Arsenal struggled to score, thus resulting in 10 defeats during the league campaign.
Ceballos will provide Arsenal with a different dimension in the final third, looking to play intricate one-twos and eye-of-the-needle through balls. If he’s not passing, Ceballos has the ability to dribble through defensive teams too.
At the Euros, Ceballos impressively averaged 3.8 successful dribbles per game, a considerably larger average than Arsenal’s other midfielders.
Control in midfield
Last season in 23 LaLiga appearances for the biggest club in the world, the 22-year-old maintained an impressive 92.6% passing accuracy, averaging 44.1 passes a game. Despite limited minutes, Ceballos still managed to create a minimum of one chance a game, leading to three assists. At the Euros, Ceballos upped his productivity by creating 2.8 chances a game.
Since the departure of Santi Cazorla, Arsenal have missed the presence of a deep-lying playmaker that can dictate play from the middle. Instead, in recent seasons the Gunners have had to rely solely on Mesut Özil for their creativity.
The signing of Ceballos reduces that burden on the German’s shoulders.
There are not many in his age bracket that boast the same composure and intelligence on the ball as Ceballos. The 22-year-old rarely panics, always seeking to produce the most effective pass - regardless of how many opposing players surround him.
In a time of great instability, this is exactly the type of player Arsenal need right now.