For the 2019/2020 Premier League season, London will be home (at least for one year) to one of the most promising – scratch that — one of the best central midfielders in Europe. Dani Ceballos joined Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid in hopes of being an undisputed starter for the whole season, something that seemed impossible at the Spanish club mainly for two reasons; on one hand, Toni Kroos, Luka Modrić, Casemiro and Isco were above him in the pecking order, and on the other, it seemed their manager Zinedine Zidane was never really fond of the Andalusian.
Ceballos joined Real Betis’ academy in 2011, when he was 15 years old. He soon got promoted to the first team after promising showings for the B team in 2014. But it was until 2016 when he started to really shine, becoming his team’s best player and being the source of all their creativity and leadership. In 2017, he was runner-up in U-21 Euro with Spain, winning player of the tournament. This made the two Spanish giants try to get his signature, but the player opted to join Los Blancos.
Under Zidane’s tenure he was a bench player for Real Madrid, and even though he got a more prominent role under Spanish coaches Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari (he played 1912 total minutes between the league and Champions League across both seasons) he only managed to score 5 goals and provide 3 assists. He then went on to win the U-21 Euro this year, again being one of the best players, scoring 2 and assisting 2 in 5 games played.
This summer, after failing to convince Zidane he could be a useful part of their 2019/20 squad (decision personally very hard to understand), he joins the Gunners with the desire to prove the French manager wrong.
Fantasy Football Potential
Now, in terms of fantasy potential, the numbers are not very encouraging. In the end, he’s a creative midfielder capable of dribbling, circulating the ball quickly and has a very respectable long range shot, but his involvement since leaving Betis has been reduced to very specific circumstances.
Priced at only £5.5m, his value could be one of the best in the upcoming season. He’s an attacking midfielder with capital A. He’s involved in almost every part of the game, can dribble and has an exquisite final pass, but in order to truly take the next step in goal involvement, he just needs to have regular minutes and feel important in the team.
He’s almost certainly a top 15 midfielder in the world. Every touch reeks quality, and it’s just a question of time until he becomes a regular assister. He could take over set-piece duty (he’s a magnificent free kick taker), his dribbling and key passing signify a potential bonus-point gold mine, and with forwards like Lacazette and Aubameyang his potential is exponential.
So, should he be on your team? It’s wait and see. It’s hard to imagine Emery not giving him almost all 38 starts, and if we get a glimpse of good chemistry with the forwards, he should definitely be in your team. The best thing of all is that at such a low price, he could become the ideal 5th midfielder, or even your 4th midfielder, allowing you to invest the savings on another forward or defender.
In conclusion, arguably one of the best attacking midfielders in the world, playing for a top 6 side, with the desire to prove his former manager wrong and with exceptional teammates to play around with, at just £5.5m, should be as desirable for fantasy players as anyone.
Written by @jerryglzh