Scouting Report: Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos
July 10, 2019
The U21 Euros may not be a true indication of a player’s talent, but provides a glimpse into their potential. No matter, winners Spain went one step further than they did two years ago and exacted revenge upon Germany in last month’s final as goals from Fabian Ruiz and Dani Olmo delivered success to La Rojita, the latter of who has been linked with a move to Premier League pair Tottenham and Manchester United.
There’s another Spaniard who shone in Italy that has been linked with a switch to England, with Spurs and United just two that would benefit from Dani Ceballos’ arrival. Real Madrid are prepared to cash in on Ceballos, despite thriving for Luis de la Fuente’s side this summer. The massive recruitment drive means Los Blancos need to cash in on fringe and young players, with the 22-year-old available for transfer as the LaLiga powerhouse ready a big money move for Paul Pogba or Christian Eriksen.
Even as he put a disappointing season behind him to excel for Spain, his availability is expected to trigger a mad scramble for his signature. A lack of a consistent run in the Real Madrid side means Ceballos has struggled to replicate his Real Betis performances at the Bernabeu and a change in role for the U21 side brought out the best in the in-demand attacker, who proved just how dangerous a midfielder he can be when a team plays to his strengths.
Unfortunately, with Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane eager to continue with the 4-3-3 setup at the Bernabeu, Ceballos has become marginalised by the Frenchman and it’s only a matter of time before the Spaniard departs for pastures new and, if a team can tap into his immense potential, then he’ll make for a fine addition to any side.
His performances for the U21 side have certainly caught the eye and while Spurs and United are supposedly fronting the race, Liverpool have also reportedly been courting Ceballos. Real Betis have been linked with a swoop for their former star as a possible Giovani Lo Celso replacement, who himself is on Spurs’ radar, and the high level of interest comes as no shock, even as he has struggled for regular game time in the capital.
That said, he showcased a number of his best traits despite his limited time on the pitch. Only Arthur (93.5%) had a better pass success rate than Ceballos (92.6%) of those aged 23 and under in LaLiga last season, as per WhoScored.com, with his ball retention qualities shining through time and time again. Yet while he performed admirably in a central midfield role, it was in the number 10 role that saw him really rise to prominence this summer.
Ceballos made more successful final third passes (144) than any other player at the U21 Euros, as per WhoScored.com, with his ability to pick out a teammate in the attacking third with ease a hugely effective strength to his game that can be utilised by any top flight manager. The Spaniard was top for key passes (14) and joint-top for assists (2) at the competition, with nobody able to really fault the creative side to his game.
When pressed with the chance to score, too, Ceballos didn’t disappoint. It was his rasping effort from distance against Italy that set Spain on their path to international success this summer and he added his second of the tournament in their 5-0 rout over Poland. Both goals came when starting behind the striker, so it adds further weight to the idea that he has been mismanaged by Zidane at Real Madrid.
Given his age, Ceballos could be coached to adapt his game enough to succeed in a central midfield role, but you’d be robbing the player of the chance to really put opponents to the sword. Having completed more dribbles (19) than any other player in Spain’s successful summer, as per WhoScored.com, having him feature behind the frontmen provides a more direct route to goal, adding another dimension to an attack.
With Eriksen on Real Madrid’s radar, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino could utilise his talents as the Dane’s successor at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in a move that would suit all parties, while Los Blancos may look to use Ceballos as a sweetener in their push for Pogba. Either way, Ceballos’ time at the Bernabeu looks to be coming to a premature end.
There’s no denying that Ceballos’ development has stunted at Real Madrid and he is yet to really hit the heights of his Real Betis days. A change of scenery would do the player the world of good and away from the glaring spotlight that comes from playing for Real Madrid, Ceballos would have a fresh opportunity to take his game to the next level. Even in just a handful of appearances for the U21 national team, the freedom granted to the player allowed him to attack defences on a whim as he played a key role in Spain’s summer success.
Real Madrid clearly wasn’t the right move for Ceballos and potential suitors should be queueing up at the Bernabeu to convince the midfielder to move to their side this summer.
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Image via Marcial Guillén, EFE