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Dani Ceballos-Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang swap still needs more proof

Real Madrid are reportedly set to offer Dani Ceballos in a swap deal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. While an interesting proposition, Arsenal need more proof that it is the right decision.

There is an increasing possibility that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could leave Arsenal this summer. The centre-forward has been superb this season, scoring 17 Premier League goals, just two behind Golden Boot leader, Jamie Vardy.

He is the fastest player in club history to reach 25 goals and 50 goals. He has 49 Premier League goals since he arrived. Only Mohamed Salah (51) has more. Sergio Aguero, in contrast, has only 41 goals in that time period. Considering the disparity in the quality of the teams they play in and the chances they are provided, it is quite remarkable Aubameyang is able to keep pace.

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However, despite all of these outrageous statistics, illustrating his brilliance during his time in north London, the Gabonese might still be on his way out of the club when all is said and done.

Aubameyang has one year remaining on his contract. He will turn 31 in the summer. He has stalled on negotiations regarding an extension, mostly so that he can determine whether Arsenal will play in the Champions League next season. All these factors make an exit rather likely. The Gunners might be forced into selling.

Should that be the case, the crucial next step the club must master is reinvesting the Aubameyang fee. They could feasibly raise £50-plus million by offloading Aubameyang. Using his value in the most efficient and effective manner is vital to ensure that they make the most of a potential sale. And this week, another avenue that Mikel Arteta and co. could explore surfaced: a swap deal for Dani Ceballos.

Per Spanish outlet Diario Madridista, Real Madrid are considering offering Ceballos as a makeweight in a move for Aubameyang. Ceballos is in the midst of a year-long loan at Arsenal and has impressed in recent outings under Arteta. The jury is still out on whether the Gunners should look to make his signing permanent in the summer, but using Aubameyang to offset the price might be a smart play.

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Ultimately, the value of this move depends on your assessment of Ceballos. If Arteta believes that his compatriot can be a reliable fixture at the heart of his midfield, which has been the case in recent weeks, using Aubameyang to sign him for nothing could be an efficient way of freeing up resources to spend at another position. However, can Arteta draw such a conclusion with any certainty?

Ceballos has been inconsistent this season. He missed a large portion of the campaign with a hamsting injury and struggled to break back into the team. Upon his return under Arteta, he injected a semblance of attacking ingenuity and progression from a deep-lying midfield position but also has a tendency to slow down the play, which is problematic, and lacks the necessary athleticism to cover space against the counter-attack. Is Ceballos a player worth swapping Aubameyang for, even if money to offset the value is included?

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It is difficult to say, and it will ultimately come down to how Arteta wants to structure his central midfield. For now, then, the jury is still out. It could be a smart play, but more proof that Ceballos really is the midfield answer is needed.

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