This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
According to Sky Sports, Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos looks close to joining Arsenal on loan after a move to Tottenham Hotspur failed to materialise.
Spanish midfielder Ceballos was on fire at the European U21 Championships for Spain, captaining his side to victory after a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Italy in the opening fixture – a game in which he scored a wonder goal to open the scoring.
Throughout the tournament, the midfielder impressed with his skill, first touch, tenacity, and end product which earned him two goals and two assists in five games – and it seems two of England’s top clubs have taken notice.
Europa League finalists Arsenal are supposedly in pole position to secure the youngster, who are in the market for a central midfielder after the departure of Aaron Ramsey. They’ve had to compete for this signing though as Ceballos also held talks with Champions League finalists Tottenham Hotspur, but Real Madrid and their player agreed to the Gunners’ proposal.
After Laurent Koscielny’s transfer saga, Unai Emery has spoken very openly about the captaincy, stating: “We have players with the capacity [to be captain], one is Granit, he was a captain in the dressing room. We have others like Mesut, Nacho. There are other players who can take this position also. I want between three and five captains in the team.”
What’s fascinating is that Emery has singled Granit Xhaka out for the role, but could his bid for captaincy be derailed by the arrival of the Madrid man?
Towards the end of last season, Aaron Ramsey was starting in a much deeper role in midfield, usually partnering Lucas Torreira or Xhaka, but ultimately playing as one of the central two, where Ceballos could be expected to play.
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While the Spaniard’s strengths stand out in the attacking phase of games, he’s naturally a central midfielder who enjoys to press the opposition. Playing for Spain and Real Madrid he operated as the attacking influence in a flat midfield three, so his experience in the role makes him more flexible than your standard number 10.
Torreira’s appearances in big games including the Europa League final suggest he won’t be dropped, and with Mesut Ozil convincing Emery he’s worthy of a place in the starting XI towards the end of last season, Ceballos could well be arriving to add that energy and finesse in midfield. He could therefore displace Xhaka from the XI, leaving the Arsenal Head Coach seeking a captain who’s likely to start every game.