New Arsenal midfielder Dani Ceballos (£5.5m) has the potential to be an exciting budget asset in Fantasy Premier League this season.
The Spaniard has joined the ranks at the Emirates Stadium on loan from Real Madrid, arriving with domestic and international acclaim.
Since signing for Real Madrid at 17, he has 35 senior appearances as well as six caps with the Spanish international team.
The midfielder has taken the number eight shirt at the Emirates, vacated by Aaron Ramsey following his departure to Juventus, and Unai Emery will be hoping that this exciting, attacking prospect can replicate his promising form in the Premier League.
Ceballos is likely to feature in a centrally-orientated attacking position for the Gunners, combining with the squad’s frontline including Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m), Pierre-Emerick Aubeyamang (£11.0m) and the club-record £72m signing Nicolas Pepe to provide incisive runs and potential assists for Arsenal’s attacking options.
Despite having huge boots to fill in taking Ramsey’s number eight shirt, if Ceballos can deliver on the hype that has surrounded his arrival at the Emirates then Fantasy managers could be looking at a real asset this season.
Head coach Unai Emery praised Ceballos’ attacking abilities upon signing:
“We’re excited to see Dani join us. He is a talented player with big technical ability, creativity and precision.”
Ceballos also spoke of his delight at having Emery’s backing:
“I knew I had the confidence of the coach, which was very important for me from the start. I was aware of the responsibility that wearing this shirt entails and it was a tremendously proud moment when I decided to join Arsenal”
The History and Statistics
Ceballos’ arrival in the Premier League with Arsenal marks a new chapter of considerable excitement in the 22-year-old’s career, yet the expectation and scrutiny he is likely to face this season will be unlike anything he has experienced before.
After rising through the youth ranks with Sevilla and Utrera in Spain, Ceballos moved to Real Betis in the concluding stages of his development as a youth prospect, arriving at the club in 2011 and making his senior debut just three years later.
The midfielder made a total of 98 appearances for Betis across three years at senior level, scoring seven goals alongside working his way into the Spanish set-up with the Under-19 and Under-21 squads.
This promising form from a young Spanish attacker attracted the interest of Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid under the management, who made their move and secured the signing of Ceballos on a six-year contract after
Ceballos’ arrival at Madrid made Spanish national manager Luis Enrique sit up and take note, with a call-up to the senior side following as his ascent went one step further at just 20 years of age.
In his most recent season in La Liga, Ceballos made 13 starts for Los Blancos as the club faltered to their worst domestic season for over 20 years.
For a club who are unquestionably in a stage of transition following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, the Bernabéu does not currently represent an ideal destination for player development with a prospect such as Ceballos, with the instantaneous requirement for results meaning blooding youth prospects does not rank highly on the list of priorities.
Combining the situation at Madrid with Arsenal’s reported lack of financial flexibility means this loan makes perfect sense for all concerned – Madrid, Arsenal and Ceballos himself – especially considering the departure of Ramsey to Juventus.
If Ceballos is able to gain a consistent stream of minutes and, consequently some form, there is no reason that this 22-year-old prospect cannot establish himself in Arsenal’s starting XI.
Yet there will understandably be a sense of cautious optimism following the disappointing loan spell from another La Liga prospect, Denis Suárez, in the most recent 2018/19 campaign.
||Minutes per shot||Minutes per shot in the box||Minutes per shot on target||Minutes per key pass|
Whilst Ceballos does not necessarily represent a marquee attacking signing for Arsenal, this is certainly a player with the potential to contribute to their attacking efforts in qualifying for the Champions League in 2019/20.
The Spaniard’s minutes per key pass (46.2) was beaten only by Mesut Özil (£7.5m) from the 2018/19 season, with his central attacking role for both Madrid and the Spanish national team helping him contribute assists and link
The disparity in Ceballos’ minutes per shot in the box and shot on target with Arsenal’s main attacking options (Aubameyang & Lacazette) suggest that Ceballos is a player less likely to score than to help his team-mates do so, although it is worth pointing out that he still shot considerably more often than Özil.
Given the friction between the German and Emery last season, it remains unclear whether the manager views the former World Cup winner as a central part of his plans for the upcoming season.
If this instability in Ozil and Emery’s working relationship is to continue, there would certainly be scope for a player such as Ceballos to play a central role for Arsenal in the upcoming Premier League season, but this will have to be a situation that is monitored by Fantasy managers in the opening Gameweeks of 2019/20.
A potentially influential factor in Ceballos’ playing time will be who Emery decides to play in the absence of Ramsey following his transfer to Juventus. The Welshman made just 14 league appearances in his final season at the club, but his departure combined with Ozil’s unquestionable inconsistency means there is a central attacking dilemma for Emery, and presently this dilemma remains unsolved.
Whether a 22-year-old loanee is an answer to Arsenal’s midfield problems is something that will only become clear in the opening stages of the 2019/20 season, especially as he does have Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£7.0m) available to him.
Last season, the former Manchester United player recorded an inferior figure for minutes per chance created compared to Ceballos, but as you can see from the table above, he definitely offers more goal threat in and around the penalty box than the new loan signing.
However, with international experience and domestic exposure at one of Europe’s biggest clubs, Ceballos certainly has the ability, coupled with the potential opportunity to excel for the Gunners in the upcoming campaign.
Arsenal’s fixtures present a difficult decision for managers, with the selection of their assets hugely based in the short-term vs medium-term comparison. The Gunners face Newcastle (away) and Burnley (home) in their first two games – attractive attacking fixtures on paper – but then face Liverpool (away) and Tottenham (home) by the start of September.
There is certainly potential for Arsenal’s attacking options to score well against the likes of Newcastle and Burnley, but whether these same assets remain viable options for testing games against Liverpool and Spurs is hard to judge.
This difficult dilemma with regards to fixtures, combined with Ceballos remaining a relatively unknown quantity in relation to Emery’s preference for selection means justifying his inclusion from the outset is tricky for Fantasy managers.
Priced at £5.5m, if Ceballos was to be starting games for Emery alongside the Gunners hitting a strong patch of form, then the 22-year-old potentially represents a value-for-money option for Arsenal coverage.
Yet at this stage of pre-season without seeing Emery’s preferred starting XI in a league fixture, Ceballos’ inclusion as an attacking Arsenal asset would represent a high-risk gamble for managers.
The Spaniard could emerge as a strong differential when Arsenal’s fixtures improve from Gameweek 8, facing none of last season’s top-six until Gameweek 17, but for now, Ceballos is likely to feature on our radars rather than our drafts.
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