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Dani Ceballos failed in his primary task this year

Arsenal brought in Dani Ceballos for a very specific purpose and, while his loan was a tremendous success, that purpose was not.

After a tremendous stretch to end the Arsenal season, Dani Ceballos is essentially a unanimous fan favorite to stay around for at least another year, but hopefully more. The Spanish midfield is scheduled to go back to Real Madrid after the FA Cup Final, but the Gunners will have hopes of keeping him around longer.

Even though Ceballos failed in his primary task as an Arsenal player.

Ceballos did a lot of things. He proved himself a lucrative midfield pivot, he flourished as a defensive helper, he dribbles so well, he knows how to move the attack forward. That was all great. But what he didn’t do was create chances consistently.

There have been a lot of comparisons between Ceballos and Cazorla and for the most part I’ve fed into those comparisons.

That said, every single year where Cazorla managed 1500+ minutes, he managed at least 2.0 chances per game. That includes Arsenal and Villareal.

This season in the Premier League, Ceballos played 1699 minutes and managed just 1.2 chances created on average, totaling two assists.

Want to talk about Cazorla’s assist output? 11, 11, 10, 10, 9, 8. Granted, Cazorla was averaging over 2000+ minutes, not just 1500, but Ceballos isn’t even close to the creative output that we needed him to be at. If he’d managed over 2000+ minutes, maybe he’d have gotten five assists. At absolute most.

Which, honestly, is just a testament to how good he was, that he was able to turn this loan into a resounding success without the numerical data to support him. It’s the same thing I’ve said about Eddie Nketiah. He didn’t score a lot of goals, but if you watch him play, you know that we want him to be around for longer.

The same goes for Ceballos. His numbers are dull and uninspiring, but his actual match contributions were so positive and so reliable, especially there at the end. He set a foundation for the minimum we could count on and conceivably, if we introduce a defensive midfielder like Thomas Partey, it would free up Ceballos to do more creating, thus solving what he was brought in to solve in the first place.

Next: 5 Things Learned Against Watford

This isn’t a condemnation of Ceballos. Far from it. It’s actually the complete opposite. He took the hard way to acceptance. Now it’s time to build on that with numerical results too.

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