After Aaron Ramsey completed his move to Serie A giants Juventus on a free transfer, eyes immediately turned toward potential replacements.
The Gunners are well stocked in central midfield, but Ramsey’s departure was still considered a blow due to his unique playing style and knack for scoring crucial goals. With that said, Dani Ceballos could prove a capable short term replacement.
Ceballos can play as a number ten behind a striker, or in a deeper role in midfield. Due to his extensive passing range and his ability to dribble toward the final third, he would be best suited to a central midfield role. The 21-year-old recently caught the eye in the Euro U21 Championships, where his Spain side were victorious. Ceballos played a key role in Spain’s midfield, which earned him a place in the Team of the Tournament and he could even consider himself unfortunate not to regain the award for Player of the Tournament that he won in the 2017 edition with UEFA giving the prize to his Spanish teammate, Fabian Ruiz.
Should Ceballos be eventually seen as a Ramsey replacement, it would not be like for like. Ramsey’s best work was arguably off the ball, making surging runs from midfield into the opposition box, latching onto crosses and loose balls and often getting on the scoresheet as a result. Ceballos is more a string-puller, dictating the tempo for his team and creating chances for the attackers. His signing will have come as good news to the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who could thrive off the Spaniard’s creativity.
Room to develop
At just 21 years of age, Ceballos is far from the finished article. He is highly rated by his parent club Real Madrid, evidenced by their refusal to discuss a permanent move. Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, currently serving his second spell in charge of Los Blancos, is said to be an admirer of Ceballos and sees him as a long term fixture of his current squad.
Whether the Gunners will be able to extend Ceballos’ stay or not remains to be seen, but watching him develop in midfield alongside the likes of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi is a mouth-watering prospect nevertheless. He is not expected to come in and fill the goalscoring void left by Ramsey, but his technical qualities on the ball and ability to deliver something out of the ordinary could see him quickly become a fan favourite at The Emirates.