Two years ago Dani Ceballos starred at the European Under-21 Championships. Then at Real Betis, the explosive young midfielder announced himself to the wider football world in spectacular fashion – showcasing his abilities in the most impressive manner.
That summer, the central midfielder joined Real Madrid in a cut price deal – which infuriated Betis fans, who believed he would pen a new deal at the club. This was seen as a landmark deal with Madrid yet again nailing down the future on one of Spain’s brightest emerging talents. However, things have not quite worked out that way.
Two years down the line, Ceballos has started just 28 matches for Madrid despite the fact he has avoided injuries – with 11 of those coming in the Copa del Rey. He has been a fringe figure in both La Liga and the Champions League, particularly under Zinedine Zidane. It appears that the Seville-native is the one real loser from the Frenchman’s return to the Madrid dugout in March.
The Spain international started and scored in March’s 3-2 victory over Huesca – his first home goal for the club – but was selected just once more in the 10 matches since. When he was signed, he could not break the midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro – and this is still the case. Furthermore, Zidane appears to place greater trust in Fede Valverde and despite Marcos Llorente’s exit to Atletico Madrid, Ceballos is still down the pecking order.
In fact, it appears certain that Los Blancos will land another big-hitting central midfielder this summer. Paul Pogba, Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek have all been heavily linked, with any of those arrivals spelling bad news for Ceballos. Unless Madrid can guarantee the Spain Under-21 star guaranteed football next season, he should be heading towards the exit door.
Indeed, in a recent interview the former Betis midfielder said he was targeting to play in at least 40 matches next campaign and has once again stated how he was only confident when he was playing regularly. He has been linked with a return to Betis alongside their city rivals Sevilla – whom he left aged 13 with chronic bronchitis – but now it appears that a move abroad is more likely.
Tottenham – where Eriksen is likely to leave – and Italian giants Milan have both been heavily linked. Ceballos is certainly a growing star within the game, but is Madrid the right home for his development?
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