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Dani Ceballos performances have not given ultimatum

This summer, Arsenal will have to decide whether to sign Dani Ceballos on a permanent basis or not. But the Spaniard’s performances have not exactly given an ultimatum.

If and when the summer transfer window takes place, Arsenal will have plenty of crucial decisions to make on players already in the squad. There is the futures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, both of whom could be sold to raise funds for reinvestment. There is the mire of centre-backs to wade through. And then there is the loan players, both those returning to the club from their loan spells and those already at the club whose loan will expire.

This last category raises the future of Dani Ceballos. After the Gunners foolishly allowed Aaron Ramsey to walk out the door for nothing, they needed to restock their central midfield in the cheapest way possible. Enter Ceballos.

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The Real Madrid midfielder was unlikely to feature this season, but having turned 23 in August and after a stunning under-21 European Championships in which he led the Spanish side to the title, the need to play regular football outweighed the desire to stay at Madrid. Ceballos, therefore, was available on a year-long loan, and with Arsenal desperate for any cheap help they could get in central midfield, the transfer was swiftly completed.

As is a natural consequence with any temporary deal, talk inevitably turns to whether the deal should be made permanent. Ceballos might remain in north London for the remainder of the season, but is the club now willing and able to shell out the necessary cash to convert the transfer from a temporary stop-gap into a long-term solution?

As the summer transfer looms, this is a critical question that Arsenal must answer. Ceballos has now entrenched himself as a key contributor in the heart of Mikel Arteta’s central midfield. If he was to return to Madrid in the summer, the club would need to invest in a suitable replacement.

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However, while Ceballos is viewed as a starter and arguably the best central midfielder in the squad, his performances have not been so awe-inspiring that the club should be forced into anything. Yes, Ceballos has been a net-positive addition to the team, but he is not playing at an irreplaceably high level.

Even within the squad, Matteo Guendouzi has shown the natural ability to perform at Ceballos’ recent standard, even if he has gone off the boil of late. And in the transfer market, there are plenty of options who can replicate Ceballos’ impact. The Spaniard is a very good player, yes, but he is not the only solution to the central midfield.

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And so, like with anything in modern football, it will come down to money. Arsenal would be wise to at least attempt to bring Ceballos back to the club. But they should also not be held to ransom. The price matters, and it if inflates too much, there are other options to explore.

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