Daily Archives: January 23, 2020
Dani Ceballos arrived on loan from Real Madrid this summer and it came with some good buzz and fanfare. Arsenal fans were aware of his technical abilities and saw him excel in his national colors in the the Under-21s European Championships, and he looked like a decent replacement for Aaron Ramsey. The fans will always love Rambo for all he did for the club in his distinguished years of service, and in Ceballos, he offered the fans a chance to get a glimpse of his ability while donning the favored Number 8 jersey.
Ceballos had a decent debut on the opening fixture against Newcastle, showing off his silky passing skills and technical ability on the ball. However, his home debut against Burnley, which turned out to be his finest performance in Arsenal colors, was exemplary, as he covered every blade of grass for his new side, while creating two assists to his teammates as the Gunners ran out as 2-1 winners. Arsenal fans expected more from Ceballos but for some reason, Unai Emery did not deem it fit to start with the Spaniard, preferring his favored son, Matteo Guendouzi, alongside the then club captain, Granit Xhaka, in central midfield.
Ceballos struggled to gain any consistent form and had a few fitness issues but he managed to put the icing on the cake when Arsenal thumped Standard Liege in the Europa League group stage fixture. After a couple of international fixtures with Spain, Ceballos got a runout on the side playing all 90 minutes in the disappointing draws with Crystal Palace and Wolves, before suffering a hamstring injury in the Europa League game against Victoria Guimaraes in early November. This turned out to be Ceballos’ last appearance for the club, before he gained full fitness in late December 2019.
Early in the month, I published an article on the players with expiring contracts, providing feedback on whether the club should sell, renew or release. Here was the final take on Ceballos,
We still have five months left in the campaign and the fans expect him to contribute to the cause but he has been an underwhelming signing thus far.
Which is why its surprising with the Metro reporting that Ceballos requested for his loan to be cut short, in his bid to find where he will play competitive football with Euro 2020 in sight. This is compounded with the cryptic Instagram message he sent to Hector Bellerin, stating how he would miss his left-footed volley against Chelsea and he wishes him the best.
Since Mikel Arteta arrived at the club in late December 2019, Ceballos has not played under his compatriot but with Arsenal still in the Europa League and FA Cup, the expectation is there for the midfield maestro to get a couple of games to contribute to the side. So the idea of him trying to leave, especially when Arteta confirmed that there will be no new signings in January (yes, we are stuck with Mustafi) will make the team lightweight in the middle. We know Joe Willock and Guendouzi can deputize for the starting duo of Xhaka and Lucas Torreira, but Mesut Ozil needs some cover as well. In this scenario, Willock can push up to feature as the #10 while Ceballos can play alongside Guendouzi, as confirmed by Arteta himself,
“I like him (Ceballos) more when he’s close to the box rather than coming deep to receive the ball. Defensively he can play in a two, rather than as a number 10. I don’t really see him as an isolated number 10 playing with two holding midfielder.
“He’s a very creative player, one who can cause problems in the final third, he always wants the ball, he had big personality to play so I like him.”
The fact that he has not featured as much as he would have hoped must have taken its toll on his decision making, but Arsenal as a club is obligated to stick with him till the end of the season. We will monitor the situation closely to see how both parties react as we edge closer to the end of the transfer window, so we might expect some decisions from the Arsenal hierarchy in the coming days.
Ceballos has had a disappointing loan spell from a personal perspective, but it doesn’t need to have a disappointing ending.
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