Throughout all the conversations about Arsenal’s summer midfield targets, one name has stood out.
The Gunners didn’t have an option to turn Dani Ceballos’ loan move from Real Madrid into a permanent deal as part of their initial agreement, but Mikel Arteta is thought to be keen to extend the Spaniard’s stay in north London.
Despite being signed by Unai Emery, the 24-year-old arguably showed his best form after the man who brought him to the Emirates Stadium had been shown the door and replaced by Arteta in December.
Arteta has confirmed there have been talks over extending Ceballos’ stay, saying: “He’s a player that we are interested in because we really saw, in the last few months of the season, what he is capable of bringing to us.”
None of this should come as a surprise, given Ceballos’ involvement at the end of last season, when things started to click and his role within the Arteta project became much more apparent.
Ceballos scored his first goal in English domestic competitions under Arteta, netting a late winner in the FA Cup victory over Sheffield United, but his value isn’t just in the final third.
His progressive passing distance of 5,541 yards (per StatsBomb/ FBref.com) was the third-highest of any Arsenal outfielder last season, despite him playing in less than half of his team’s Premier League minutes, while his pass completion percentage of 84.2% placed him in the top 70 in the entire league, ahead of fellow midfielders Jordan Henderson, Giovani Lo Celso and Ruben Neves.
He also won more tackles than any other Arsenal players last season, while only eight other players with fewer than 1800 minutes besting his 28 tackles won.