Mikel Arteta says Dani Ceballos’ best position isn’t either of the main two roles Unai Emery used the midfielder in before his departure.
When Dani Ceballos first joined, Unai Emery was Arsenal’s head coach, rather than Mikel Arteta. Emery principally played Ceballos in one of two positions: Either as a lone number 10 or in the sitting midfield two.
Ceballos also played on the left once or twice, but for the most part, those were his two positions.
Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s match against Crystal Palace on Saturday, Arteta admitted he actually doesn’t want Ceballos in either role.
“Obviously he had a long-term injury, he had an adaptation to this league,” Arteta said. “I know him really well from Spain, I watched him many, many times. He’s a player that can fit our style, and now he needs to make a step forwards.
“I like him more when he is closer to the box, rather than always coming deep to receive the ball. Depends if he can play in a two, rather than as a number 10. I don’t really see him as an isolated number 10 playing with two holding midfielders.
“He’s a very creative player, he’s a player who in the final third can cause problems. He always wants the ball, he has a big personality to play. So, I like him.”
So where will Ceballos play?
The suggestion is that Arteta wants Ceballos to play in a more advanced midfield two, presumably with a single holding midfielder behind them.
Exactly how the coach wants this to work in an ideal world remains to be seen. Ceballos is just back from an injury, so we’re still a way off a settled side with him in it. You’d expect Mesut Özil to play as the other advanced midfielder though.
The other question is who you’d put behind them. Lucas Torreira is the best option defensively, but Granit Xhaka is better playing forward passes. That’s before mentioning Matteo Guendouzi. Joe Willock is also an option in a more advanced role.
The good news is that Arteta actually has some selection dilemmas now.