Mikel Arteta is right: Arsenal must do all they can to keep Dani Ceballos

Simon Collings
·3-min read
Getty Images
Getty Images

There was rightly some caution urged when Dani Ceballos ran the show for Arsenal against Norwich City last week.

It was, after all, a glorious summer’s evening in London and the team sat 20th in the Premier League hardly resembled a true litmus test. But here, against Champions League contenders Leicester City, Ceballos showed he is the real deal.

The Spaniard put in the kind of display Arsenal fans expected of him when he joined from Real Madrid last summer, as he dominated the midfield.

His pass for Arsenal’s goal was particularly pleasing as he skipped past Youri Tielemans with a delightful shimmy, before splitting the defence with a brilliant ball to find Bukayo Saka - who then laid on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score.

It was a moment of pure quality from Ceballos, but one that was crucially backed up by an all-round performance we have not seen enough this season.

The Spaniard pressed and harried in midfield, diving into tackles in a manner that made you think he really could cut it on a wet, cold Tuesday night at Stoke.

And that, in as many ways, is the main reason why Ceballos is starting to look at home in this Arsenal midfield. Thanks to Mikel Arteta, he has gone from being a midfielder capable of magic moments to one who can truly control a game.

That is something Arsenal have not had for a long time, arguably not even since the days of Cesc Fabregas, but Ceballos is showing he is ready to try and orchestrate proceedings.

When he shone on his debut against Burnley fans rightly got excited and, while that has lulled since, it took off again following his performance against Norwich last week.


Rightly so people urged caution after that - it was only Norwich after all - but after this match against Leicester, Arsenal fans are right to get excited again.

Against Wolves on Saturday, you could hear Arteta bellowing “Dani, Dani, Dani” from the sideline as he ordered Ceballos around.

But tonight, against Leicester, the Spaniard’s name was barely uttered and that is perhaps the biggest indicator of how well he played - and how he has bought into Arteta’s philosophy.

Suddenly Arsenal have a midfielder who has gone from being a box of tricks to an all-round performer, and one Arteta wants to keep at Arsenal.

“He’s not in our hands so the clubs will need to have a communication and see what we can do,” said Arteta.

“I’m really happy with him, the way he’s evolving and I love how much he likes to play football – the passion he puts into every training session, and in every game, you just have to see his celebrations.

“I’m really happy with him, I think he’s evolving in the right way and he’s becoming a really important player for us.”

On tonight's evidence Arteta is right, Arsenal should do all they can to keep Ceballos - even if only for another season.

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