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20/21 First Team Transfers

Dani Ceballos Re-Joins on Loan

Dani Ceballos has re-joined Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid.

Ceballos is Arsenal’s latest signing in the window, after the signings of Willian from Chelsea and Gabriel Magalhães from Lille.

The Spaniard was subject to bids from Spain and Italy, thought to be from former team Real Betis and AC Milan respectively. Despite the former club’s bids, Ceballos opted to re-join Arsenal after speaking to Mikel Arteta. Arsenal will not pay a loan fee as they did in his previous loan agreement, they will instead cover the entirety of his wages for the forthcoming season.

Despite interest from the aforementioned teams, following Ceballos’ chat with Mikel Arteta, Ceballos refused to leave Madrid for any other clubs than Arsenal.

Ceballos’ hugely impressive debut against Burnley

Ceballos spent the 19/20 campaign on loan at Arsenal and signed on the same day as William Saliba. 

It was initially thought that Ceballos join Arsenal’s North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, however, the lack of a purchase option in the initial loan deal scuppered any hope of Ceballos joining them. 

Ceballos’ Arsenal career started with a bang, with an outstanding individual performance at home to Burnley, which saw him turn in a Santi Cazorla-esque performance that had the Arsenal fans singing his name to the tune of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”. 

However, his form noticeably dipped after that, which was a combination of the Spaniard’s drop in confidence, Arsenal’s drop in form and the disastrous final days of Unai Emery’s reign at the club, which culminated in Ceballos picking up an injury in Arsenal’s 1-1 away draw with Vitória de Guimarães. 

Ceballos after the Premier League’s resumption in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

After Emery’s departure, Arsenal appointed Mikel Arteta, however, Ceballos found it difficult to break into Arteta’s side and rumours began to swirl that Ceballos may call time on his Arsenal loan spell and return to Real Madrid, either to seek game time or to find a similar loan deal.

His commendable patience was rewarded however and he soon became a mainstay of the Arsenal midfield, usually partnering Swiss international, Granit Xhaka.

After the resumption of football in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ceballos’ form improved further and since the resumption of football, Ceballos ended the season in first place for:

  • Touches: 504
  • Key passes: 10
  • Dribbles completed: 9
  • Tackles: 15
  • Interceptions: 17
  • Ball recoveries: 52
  • Distance covered (km): 78
Ceballos celebrates his first Arsenal goal against Standard Liège

Ceballos capped off an impressive end to the season with Arsenal by scoring the winning goal in stoppage time in the FA Cup quarter finals against Sheffield United and was an integral part of Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

In subsequent press conferences, Mikel Arteta spoke about how he wished for Ceballos to return to Arsenal in some capacity and given the Spaniard’s impact since the restart, its easy to see why.

A lot of Arteta’s tactics seemed to be built around getting the best out of Ceballos. Where Ceballos had struggled to nail-down a starting position in the Arsenal midfield under Emery, often competing with Mattéo Guendouzi, Emery eventually opted to move Ceballos into a number ten role, given the continued exile of Mesut Özil and the mismanagement of Lucas Torreira.

However, Ceballos thrived more deeper in midfield, playing in the number eight role as a de-facto replacement for Aaron Ramsey, who had left the club in the summer for Juventus.

Ceballos was vital in Arsenal’s FA Cup campaign

Under Arteta, Ceballos was able to unlock defences easier as a deep-lying playmaker and had a better influence on the game just out of the periphery of the opposition’s pressing game, this often allowed him to occupy the same space as Xhaka in the deep-lying playmaker role, however, Arsenal’s lack of defensive midfielders (which perhaps explains the club’s continued interest in Atlético Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey) meant that Ceballos and Xhaka were often overrun in midfield.

For his part, Ceballos seems eager to rejoin Arsenal as well, with the Spaniard emphatically celebrating Arsenal’s Community Shield victory over Liverpool last Saturday.

In accordance with governmental procedures, Ceballos is required to quarantine for two weeks before he can train with his teammates.

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