Arsenal

Arsenal have finally found the star to add style and substance to their midfield

 • by Will Evans
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Arsenal are set to pull off one of the transfer coups of the summer by bringing Real Madrid and Spanish international playmaker Dani Ceballos to the Emirates Stadium on a season-long loan. 

The Gunners are operating on a shoestring budget this summer after failing to qualify for the 2019/20 Champions League, and are having to make a transfer pot of around £40million stretch to cover their recruitment over the coming weeks.

With that in mind, a reported loan without an option to buy makes perfect sense for Arsenal, Ceballos and Real Madrid.

The Gunners can avoid paying out a significant fee which will allow them to return with another bid for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney and continue to pursue a deal for Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha

Ceballos, meanwhile, gets exactly what he wanted this summer: a move during which he can showcase his many talents ahead of the 2020 European Championships but a guarantee of a return to the Bernabéu next summer. 

Real, meanwhile, will be pleased the 22-year-old remains on their books given he has the potential to blossom into a world-class superstar.

Arsenal supporters will also be buoyed by a more aggressive approach to the transfer market that could see them beat rivals Tottenham Hotspur to the signatures of both Ceballos and Saint-Étienne centre-back William Saliba within a matter of days.

But the Spaniard will offer more to Unai Emery’s side than simply getting one up on Spurs; he could prove the perfect replacement for Aaron Ramsey after the dynamic midfielder departed for Juventus

While Ceballos isn’t a carbon copy of the Welsh international, his attacking incision and goalscoring ability will go some way to filling the void left by the 28-year-old’s move to Italy.

If we compare the Real Madrid man to his fellow LaLiga midfielders last season then his potency in the final third becomes apparent – his record of 0.21 goals scored per 90 minutes was inside the league’s top 20 and a strike rate of 0.14 goals from outside the box per 90 was the third-best in Spain’s top tier.

With an average of 1.73 shot assists per match only bettered by two players in LaLiga, Ceballos’ involvement in attack is unlikely to go unnoticed in the upcoming campaign. 

Arsenal target Dani Ceballos in action for Real Madrid

The 2019 Under-21 European Championship winner may also have the Gunners’ current midfield options worrying about their spots in the first team, but the statistics indicate that Ceballos could complement the attributes of Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, rather than directly replace them. 

For example, his passing completion rate of 92.6 per cent last season was better than Xhaka’s 85.3, as was the number of passes that the former Real Betis star completed in the opposition half of the pitch per 90 (42.76 vs 35.55).

But Arsenal’s Swiss international completed more passes overall and had more touches per 90, despite Ceballos excelling in both of these areas for Los Blancos in 2018/19. 

It’s a similar story when we compare him to Arsenal’s more defensive minded midfielders. Ceballos recorded the 19th most dispossessions of any LaLiga midfielder last season at 2.02 per 90, and that’s better than both Torreira and Guendouzi.

The same can be said of his ability to win the ball back in the final third (0.86 times per 90), but he loses out to the Arsenal duo when it comes to regaining possession in the other two-thirds of the pitch. 

Arsenal target Dani Ceballos could be on his way to London from Real Madrid

In essence, the Utrera-born star would provide the Gunners with all the attributes they don’t currently possess in midfield. An added bonus for the North Londoners could also be Ceballos’ dead ball ability, and the six-cap international’s scoring rate from direct free-kicks of 0.07 per 90 was the second-best among midfielders in Spain’s top division. 

That skill merely adds weight to the argument that Ceballos is the perfect signing for Arsenal this summer. Whether it’s attacking intent, passing accuracy or ball-winning ability, the playmaker can be the final piece in Emery’s midfield puzzle and will surely improve the Gunners’ chances of securing a Champions League spot next season. 

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