The summer has lost a bit of its flavour as there’s not been much going on and aside from the Confederations Cup, there’s not been any major tournament in any part of the world. For fans worldwide, therefore, the summer has just been like every other one without the summer tournaments; dour, boring and just a big waste of time…
Try telling that to Real Madrid’s latest recruit, Dani Ceballos, who has just had the best summer of his life. His awesome displays in the U21 European Championships secured him a move to one of La Liga’s big boys and he ended the tournament with the best player award as did Andrea Pirlo, Thiago and Luis Figo before him.
With his release clause at a relatively low €15m, he was promptly snapped up by Real Madrid after another hassle with Barcelona.
The Andalusian’s career has not always been this good. He started out at Sevilla, but had to leave in 2009 when he was diagnosed with bronchitis.
He overcame his troubles with the help of a personal trainer and went on to join their biggest rivals Real Betis, making his debut for the Verdiblancos in 2014 and since becoming one of their best players with excellent performances that belie his tender years key to them gaining promotion to La Liga in 2015 and finishing a respectable 15th last season.
It’s this sort of determined mentality to make it to the higher reaches of the game that will serve him well at the Santiago Bernanbeu. It takes a certain character to succeed in Madrid and Ceballos looks to have the mental attributes pertaining to a successful career.
He created 38 of their 314 chances and only Durmisi created more despite playing more minutes, impressive for any midfielder and he’s just 20.
The heir to Luka Modric
His playing style is akin to Andres Iniesta with his subtle feints and very efficient change of pace, fooling defenders in the process. Consequently, he was the most fouled player in La Liga last season after Neymar.
The match against Italy at the U21 Euros offering a perfect example of his array of skills. His nonchalant nutmeg caused Roberto Gagliardini to lose it, chopping the Spaniard and getting himself sent off for a second caution, whilst his change of pace was made evident a few minutes later when he went on a merry-go-round from his own half, embarrassing the Italians, turning them this way and that before firing a shot that was eventually blocked.
Ceballos has the vision and agility to run the game as a box-to-box midfielder and he’s not afraid to run forward with the ball rather than just give a square pass, his through balls are defence-splitting passes akin to a certain Luka Modric.
More than anything what fans love is a player who shows commitment and puts full effort in every game. His passionate displays are always on show at every game he plays. His talent cannot just be hidden and so is his seeming inability to steer clear of controversy.
Ending the controversy
His Twitter feed is full of awkward tweets, as is common with every youngster, but his tweets were far more questionable during the 2015 Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao when both set of supporters booed the Spanish national anthem.
It prompted the then 18-year-old to tweet that he hoped a bomb be dropped “on the stands and kill those Catalan and Basque dogs.” He also called Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique “shameless” for celebrating Spain’s Euro 2012 win with the Catalan flag, saying: “Get out of the country, Catalans!”. Not what is expected from someone who wants to be seen as a model professional.
His love for controversy has been the main talking point of his career until last year when he finally resolved to let his feet do the talking. It’s been his best year yet, as a result, and working alongside midfielders at the top of their game in Toni Kroos and Modric bodes well for his future.
Zinedine Zidane is now more than able to replace either of them in his now famed rotations without diluting the quality in the side, whilst it will also give the midfield tyro a bigger platform to excel. If his feet continue to do the talking, he definitely still has the best of times yet to come.
Can Ceballos succeed at Real Madrid? Will he break into the first team or end up out on loan? Let us know in the comments section below.
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