This doesn’t happen very often, but I don’t think I’ve been fair in my previous assessments of on-loan Real Madrid playmaker Dani Ceballos, who recently joined Arsenal on a second season-long loan. In the heat of a competitive match, it’s easy to lose sight of finesse and work rate, especially, in real-time.
To truly assess the skillset of Dani Ceballos, one simply needs the benefit of a pre-recorded match, in this case, the FA Cup final against Chelsea and remote control. You see some of the work Dani Ceballos does for Arsenal isn’t fancy and doesn’t turn heads. Some of it’s not particularly exciting and doesn’t showcase his range of creativity or relentless work rate, but if you put it all together over 90 minutes, you begin to see what all the fuss is about.
Ceballos moves quietly with purpose around the pitch, analysing the game and any available openings or opportunities. He works superbly well with Granit Xhaka, by exchanging roles in attack and defence and when he (Ceballos) plays forward, he has a wealth of passes to offer, short and long, whilst making himself available for another pass as the play moves upfield.
His game against Chelsea wasn’t a masterclass, but he kept the play flowing by switching it from side to side, through the middle and over the top. Not all of it came off but he impressed with his constant work ethic and class, even if at times, it was easy to overlook in the big picture.
With the benefit of slo-mo, it became simple to see the slightest of touches, the intent, and the invention. The best that Arsenal had to offer began and ended with the feet of Dani Ceballos. Perhaps, the much-maligned Mesut Ozil should be rubbing shoulders with the Spaniard to obtain a fraction of the consistency and commitment he displays. He certainly wants to play his natural game but he shows a willingness to work for the team, in whatever capacity is required.
At 24, Dani Ceballos has a lot more to offer an Arsenal side in transition as well as the Spanish national squad. Arteta believes in the midfielder and he would have already secured him on a four-year permanent deal if money were no object.
I may have to do more of this when looking at individual player’s performances, instead of them becoming airbrushed out of the picture by the general performance or an outstanding result.