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Scouting Report: Dani Ceballos


Aaron Ramsey‘s departure from Arsenal created yet another problem in the squad. The solution Arsenal have looked to is the Spanish youngster Dani Ceballos, who came through the Real Betis youth setup with the likes of Fabian Ruiz.

He became one of Europe’s hottest prospects after being named player of the tournament at the 2017 European U-21 Championship. Eventually, he moved to Real Madrid and picked up a Champions League winning medal but has overall been a side feature of the Galacticos.

Through analyzing data and statistics we will explore Dani Ceballos’ best abilities that make him one of the best midfield talents in Europe.

Ball progressor 

Ceballos oozes class in every touch. Coming through the Spanish youth systems and now playing at Madrid, he was expected to play in a very demanding system as the team looked to play at a quick tempo with high intensity. He’s proved to develop into a quality player with the ball at his feet. Ceballos boasted a 91% passing accuracy for Real Madrid in the 2018/19 season.

A question that would arise after seeing his passing accuracy would be is he a progressive passer? The answer is yes, very.  His buildup stats are impressive, with an xGBuildup of 0.58. In comparison, Real Betis prospect Gio Lo Celso’s is 0.43. His deep progression score is also impressive with a 9.5 per 90.

His ball progressing qualities have defined the role he plays in sides and the space he operates in. Dropping deep during buildup phases for Spain and Real Madrid.


Dani Ceballos dropping as deep as CBs to assist buildup phases.

His ball carrying ability can be considered above average. The Spaniard would have 1.4 successful dribbles per 90. Ceballos attacks space when carrying the ball forward, he does not dribble through pressure, however. His good close control and use of his body would see him win fouls.


Ceballos carrying the ball into space.

Intelligent presser

His pressing has continued to evolve and develop with every season. The importance of pressing to a team cannot be understated in modern football tactics. Midfielders abilities to read the game and intelligently know when to press to create turnovers has become a must in order to compete at the elite levels.

Dani Ceballos particularly excels in his pressing abilities. Similarly to his predecessor Welsh wizard Aaron Ramsey.  The effectiveness of his pressing ability can be gauged through Statsbomb player data. Ceballos makes 3.9 pressure regains per 90. He intelligently knows when to press into the opposition half and commit to a challenge creating turnovers.

Below are examples of his pressing in a game vs Valencia this season. In this game, Ceballos made an outstanding eight ball recoveries.


Dani Ceballos ball recoveries vs. Valencia (H)


Ceballos reads when to step into the opposition half and win the ball.

Comparing to Ramsey

Whether some want to admit it or not Aaron Ramsey is one of Europe’s best midfielders. Replacing the hole left in the Arsenal team will not be easy. Ramsey a two-way midfielder can be considered one of the most complete players able to operate in both ends of the pitch. Ceballos can also be considered a two-way midfielder. Being considered a hybrid of an eight and 10.

Comparing the two statistically is difficult because of the sample sizes of data. Ceballos only made 13 starts for Real Madrid in the 2018/19 season and Ramsey only made 14 for Arsenal. So below is a comparison of Ramsey’s 2017/18 season and Ceballos’ 2016/17 season. Specifically looking at Ceballos’ defensive statistics.


Aaron Ramsey 2017/18 vs Dani Ceballos 2016/17.

You can tell Ceballos is defensively competent through these statistics. Despite the difference in physicality and quality between the Premier League and La Liga, these are relevant.

An area of the game that Ceballos does not excel in-contrast to Ramsey, however, is his off the ball movement. Aaron Ramsey has been known for his off the ball movement during passing sequences, goals and his late runs into the box.

Ceballos does not make timely runs into the box. His off the ball movement generally could be considered a problem. He sometimes looks to receive passes without realizing the situation he’s in. Often operating in another player’s space. Below is an example where Luka Modric is looking to play a pass and Ceballos is demanding the ball despite not being in a position to receive it.


Dani Ceballos failing to create space for himself and demanding a pass where he’d be immediately pressured.

Ceballos at Arsenal 

Unai Emery’s phone call to the youth Spanish international promising a significant role in the squad can be very telling. It says that he will be a significant and prominent feature to the Arsenal lineup. If Unai Emery were to use his preferred 4-2-3-1 of last season Ceballos could play two possible roles.

One is a deeper role as one of the two in the midfield. Ceballos’ incredible ball progression ability could see him playing deeper assisting the buildup phases as he did for Spain’s U21’s and Real Madrid.

From here on he could look to pick out a player between the lines, possibly Mesut Ozil. Ceballos always looks to first pass into a central area. His quality passing range and ability can see him pick through compact midfield lines, as his 91% passing accuracy shows. Below is an example of him picking out an attacking midfielder in between the midfield and defensive lines in a tight space.


Ceballos finding attacking midfielder in a tight space.

At Real Betis, he played in a more advanced role as an attacking midfielder. He only provided two assists and two goals however in this time. This lack of end product can be down to his as before mentioned, pour off the ball movement to create space and goals.

As a number 10, he could lean the press effectively. Similarly to how Ramsey was played. Against Chelsea, Ramsey was played as a number 10 to man-mark Jorginho. Eliminating his influences from the game. Ceballos could be used in a similar fashion.


An absolutely perfect transfer for Arsenal. A player that would’ve topped the shopping list in terms of centre midfielders. Ceballos’ ball progression could be a warm welcome after the end of last season where Arsenal at times struggled to transition into the opposition half from the buildup phases.


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