Arsenal "were almost dead" before Mikel Arteta's arrival, according to Dani Ceballos, who has praised the Gunners boss for bringing about "radical change" at Emirates Stadium.
Unai Emery was sacked after 18 months in charge at Arsenal following a seven-match winless run in November 2019.
Interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg was unable to steady to the ship, and by the time Arteta was appointed five days out from Christmas day, the Gunners' 2019-20 campaign was in tatters.
However, Arteta immediately set about stamping his own mark on a squad struggling for confidence, implementing the same style of football which had garnered so much success for Manchester City during his three-year stint as Pep Guardiola's assistant.
Arsenal salvaged an eighth-place Premier League finish in the end, and also got their hands on the FA Cup after a thrilling run which included impressive wins over Leicester, City and Chelsea.
The Gunners haven't kicked on as supporters might have hoped in the early stages of the new season, but Ceballos has no doubt that Arteta is the right man to take the club forward after seeing the impact he has had in north London over the past 11 months.
“The team was almost dead - but after Arteta’s arrival we won the FA Cup and the Community Shield," the 24-year-old told The Sun.
“It’s not even a year since he arrived and he has given a radical change to the club.
“He’s the soul of the club and he’s lucky that the players trust him 100 per cent.
“Arsenal need him, in part because he takes the initiative most of the time.”
Ceballos, who is currently on loan at Arsenal from Real Madrid, went onto insist that Champions League qualification is still a realistic goal for the team ahead of a crucial meeting with Wolves at the Emirates on Sunday.
“Arsenal have to fight to be in the top four," he added.
“But before there were five teams fighting to get into the Champions League, now there are six or seven.
“You just have to look at Manchester City, one of the best teams in England, or Manchester United. They are not up at the top of the table.
“Southampton and Aston Villa, who last year struggled not to be relegated, have surprised everyone.
“It is a tremendously competitive league, anyone can beat anyone. But our moment will come.”