The solution to Arsenal's midfield problems is staring Mikel Arteta right in the face
The midfielder is currently on loan at Arsenal from La Liga giants Real Madrid and the Spain international arguably has all the talent needed to reach the very top
Dani Ceballos is a driven individual. Some players could be accused of resting on their laurels in a comfortable situation—many would be content to sit on Real Madrid’s bench.
Instead, the Spanish midfielder wants to impress, play football and earn himself the opportunity to be a key figure at his club and a part of his country’s tournament future.
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After getting a taste for being the key man while at Real Betis, where Ceballos lead by example in both the Spanish second division and in La Liga, a move to a giant such as Madrid was the next logical step.
He was heralded as one of the country’s golden boys, a talent which would invariably climb its way to the top.
Stagnation at club level followed due to Real Madrid’s wide array of midfield options, but no such excuses can be made at the Emirates.
In the likes of Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, Mikel Arteta has got several deep-lying midfielders who can keep the tempo ticking over and help his side progress from their defensive third.
Once possession steps into the middle third, however, it is down to a conductor such as Ceballos to set the wheels in motion.
The 23-year-old is familiar with the idea of high risk equalling high reward and his direct, driving approach suits a team who would otherwise look ponderous and blunt when plotting on making their moves into the final third.
Ceballos may have been unfortunate with a muscle injury picked up in early November, keeping him out until the New Year, but the Spaniard should now be at the forefront of Arteta’s plans.
He arrived in London with the intent to show that he was ready to be involved for Luis Enrique’s World Cup plans - with the delay to Euro 2020 potentially putting him firmly in the equation for tha tournament in the summer of 2021 too.
Whenever he has been allowed the responsibility to lead a team, he has done so excellently.
Betis made huge strides after Ceballos came through their academy as a youngster, with Spain’s U21 side also profiting from his star quality as he snatched the Player of the Tournament award at the 2017 European Championships.
Most importantly, if a performance isn’t going as planned, Ceballos doesn’t hide. If he makes an error or his team aren’t having the strongest of days, wanting the ball is his primary concern.
Despite still having room to improve at the age of 23, the self-belief and confidence that the Spaniard retains even through tough spells is key for succeeding at the top.
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At Real Madrid, too, this season has shown how a younger operator in Federico Valverde can inject something different into a long-established midfield three. With Luka Modric’s long-term future far from certain, there is a definite target for Ceballos to hit: prove to his parent club that he has the ambition to fill that large void.
His quality has been there for all to see in the Premier League in flashes this season, along with tenacity, work rate and desire.
If he is permitted to see the season through at the Emirates, consistent minutes will bring with them more consistent performances and a creative, dynamic midfield figure that Arsenal can depend upon—something which has escaped the Gunners for a long while.