Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos should play in attacking midfield

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This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

After a mixed beginning to the season, Arsenal need to kick-start their campaign if they are to keep pace in the fight for the top four.

To do so, they will need an in-form Dani Ceballos, and he needs to be utilised in a more advanced position.

On the chalkboard

Ceballos joined the Gunners on loan from Real Madrid in the summer transfer window as he looks to continue his development.

So far, the former Real Betis man has shown flashes of what he is capable of, but Unai Emery will be hoping he can be more consistent as the season progresses.

Playing him frequently in attacking midfield is perhaps the key to unlocking his full potential.

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Move him further forward

So far in his career, Ceballos has been played for the most part as a central midfielder. The vast majority of the 112 professional appearances Transfermarkt have recorded positions for have come in that position, and clearly he displayed a certain amount of talent there to earn himself a move to Real.

However, there is an argument to be made that he is actually better suited to a more offensive role. He has so far made five appearances for the Emirates Stadium outfit, with two coming in the middle of the park and three behind the striker. His best performance to date came playing in the latter role, registering an 8.2 WhoScored rating whilst also providing the assists for both goals in a 2-1 victory against Burnley.

The 5ft 9in playmaker particularly impressed at the U21 European Championships in June and July. Across five matches, he provided two goals and two assists as Spain lifted the trophy, and his displays were even rewarded with a place in the official Team of the Tournament. All but one of those came in an attacking midfield role.

In fact, his appearances for the Spain U21 side throw up some interesting statistics. He has played 29 times for the team overall.

While playing as a central midfielder, he has registered one goal and four assists, compared to seven goals and four assists in the attacking midfield position. Clearly, he displayed far more of a threat when taking up more offensive responsibility.

Emery, therefore, should think about using him further up the pitch rather than more pragmatically.

It can only benefit the Gunners and could also see him prove his worth to Real in the process.

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