With hard-working schemers such as Papa Sokratis, Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka, Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has all the graft that he could ever want (admittedly he could also do without Xhaka losing the ball so often or indeed making rash tackles – but we digress). What he needs — and this was clear from the opening exchanges in the previous Premier League draw with Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby match — is guile.
That guile, the artistry to be able find a pass, to unlock a defence with a bit of skill, comes in the shape of Dani Ceballos. With the situation surrounding playmaker Mesut Ozil’s position at the club still unclear, Ceballos more than anyone is pivotal to helping the Gunners’ three-pronged attack. Once the Spanish midfielder came on against Tottenham, the trio of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alex Lacazette and Nico Pepe, started to penetrate the visitors’ backline more often.
So, it isn’t stretching the bounds of reason you suggest that Emery try to get a deal done to land the Real Madrid ace on a permanent deal as soon as possible. in other words, in the January transfer window. At the moment he is on a season-long loan but he has already demonstrated he has so much to offer at Arsenal. His display against Burnley in the opening home game of the season was a masterclass and he contributed massively — he laid on both goals and was greeted with a standing ovation from the fans at the end of the game — to a 2-1 win against Sean Dyche’s side. True, he stuttered somewhat at Liverpool when the Gunners went down 3-1 but he redeemed himself last Sunday in the draw against the old rivals from up the Seven Sisters Road.
And just this week, Ceballos has once again proved he is a player with the world at his feet. He played a vital part in full-back Jordi Alba’s goal that sealed the deal as he gained his seventh full international cap in a Euro qualifying 2-1 victory in Romania.
Arsenal powerbroker Josh Kroenke, the son of billionaire owner Stan, spoke of the Gunners being “aggressive” in their transfer dealings over the summer which resulted in the recruitment of Celtic defender Kieran Tierney, Pepe and David Luiz, as well as Ceballos on loan. If string-puller Raul Sanllehi can work his magic in time for a deal for the Spanish ace in January so be it. Any Arsenal fan who has seen Ceballos in action will settle for a permanent deal for the favourite at the end of the season. If it happens it will be Real Madrid’s loss and the gain of the Gunners.