It took Mikel Arteta’s appointment as their manager, but since one Barcelona trainee’s arrival at Arsenal, Dani Ceballos – on loan from Real Madrid – has emerged as one of their most influential players. There remains much for Arteta to do if his team is to be transformed into the title contenders they once so regularly were, but if the signing of William Saliba and Bukayo Saka’s emergence had already given them cause for optimism, Ceballos’ consistent performances have heightened that.
Not since Arsène Wenger’s reign as manager have Arsenal had both the foundations of a top-four team and such reason to believe in that team’s potential, but in Saliba, Saka, Ceballos, Héctor Bellerín and more that again exists, and it may even be Ceballos who becomes most responsible for the identity Arteta is attempting to create. “Him and Granit (Xhaka) have created a really good understanding,” said Arteta, also once an influential midfielder. “They give us a lot of balance and a lot of stability with the ball to make the right decision in moments of transition and they are evolving a lot together. Defensively, Dani has made a big step forward with the way he is pressing, the amount of interceptions that he is putting in, and he is enjoying it.”