Just when it was beginning to feel like the remainder of Arsenal’s transfer window was going to be fruitless, the Gunners gave Arsenal fans everywhere something to be excited about when the club announced earlier this morning that Dani Ceballos, the 22 year old midfielder from Real Madrid, was officially joining the London club on a season-long loan. Ceballos becomes Arsenal’s second signing of the summer transfer window after the acquisition of 18 year old striker Gabriel Martinelli.
Compared to other transfer rumor sagas, this one was relatively swift and drama-free. After being linked to Arsenal a little over a week ago, Ceballos’ transfer was finalized. There was some minor concern that the unfortunate ACL injury suffered by Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio during their friendly with Arsenal would affect the transfer. Fortunately for Arsenal, it didn’t appear to be an issue that would derail the agreement.
Ceballos is a talented midfielder who will look to slot in the center of the pitch in the midfield pivot or even deputize for Mesut Ozil and is an ideal replacement for Aaron Ramsey at the #8 position. Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been very keen on Ceballos and seemed to be very personally invested in ensuring the loan went through. It would appear that Real Madrid have every intention of keeping the Spanish international, though, which is why there appears to be no option to purchase after the year-long loan has finished.
Despite playing behind the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, Ceballos started for Real Madrid 13 times last season in the midfield. What should stand out most to Arsenal fans is his passing. With a 92.6% successful passing rate, he already exceeds every player on Arsenal’s roster last season, including Mesut Ozil (88.6) and the departed Aaron Ramsey (82). While Arsenal boast one of the world’s best attacking tandems in Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they were stunted at times last season by a lack of service. With Ceballos’ passing, the attack should only benefit from his presence.
With Ceballos’ skill set, he will almost undoubtedly slot in ahead of the likes of Matteo Guendouzi, who was thrust into a starting role out of necessity far too early last year, and Mohamed Elneny, who is frankly just not all that good. The player most likely to be unsettled by the transfer is Joe Willock, whose breakout performance in the International Champions Cup made it appear that he was set to become a first team regular.
Unlike the catastrophic Denis Suarez transfer last season, many outlets see this transfer as a huge win for Arsenal. While Suarez was a misfit who never seemed to adapt to life in London or remain healthy, Ceballos is a young player on the cusp of stardom. He has already featured for Spain’s international team six times and won the European U21 Championship with Spain this summer.
Not only will he have big shoes to fill in the midfield, he’ll have to live up to the other lofty expectation that comes with being given the coveted number eight.
While the loan is a great move for Arsenal, it doesn’t fix the fact that, despite Ceballos’ pedigree, Arsenal are still not addressing their glaring need for defensive players. With only two weeks remaining in the transfer window, Arsenal have many needs left to fulfill. With Kieran Tierney still a potential option and William Saliba close to being complete, there is still time for the Gunners to address it - just not a lot of it.