Dani Ceballos suffered the second most fouls in LaLiga in the green-and-white of Real Betis. Only Neymar was fouled more. That is significant. Ceballos is classy, and the opposition seek him out. He receives the ball and gets his head up in search of a better position from which to deliver a pass; and that is when the kicks arrive. Ceballos is the man to keep an eye on for the opposing team. We saw the same approach in the Under 21 European Championship, where he received more than his fair share of heavy challenges. Of course, being on the receiving end of fouls is not a merit in itself. No club buys a player because of how often they are fouled. Yet players usually attract those niggly challenges because they are good. What is more, each time a player is fouled their team retains possession, and the referee’s notebook begins to beckon for the perpetrators.
Ceballos should choose Madrid for the long-term
I like Ceballos, particularly when he is surrounded by good players, players who share his wavelength. He would benefit from that at both Madrid and Barça. The difference between the two is that Barcelona really need to add to their ranks. It’s highly likely that Ceballos would be a regular starter for Barça, and that may not be the case at the Bernabéu. So with September in mind, I would point Ceballos in the direction of Barcelona. With the rest of his career in mind, I would point him towards Real Madrid, where Luka Modric is now 32 years old. And besides, Zidane is not a coach who freezes out his squad players. He rotates his team and gives them minutes. He makes them feel wanted.
Real Madrid's savvy transfer business
Theo Hernández covering for Marcelo; Marcos Llorente covering for Casemiro; Ceballos covering for Modric. Madrid are going about their business well. Marcelo and Casemiro did not previously have sufficient cover (the only thing Coentrao was involved in was the mess with the tax authorities), while Kovacic is a different type of player to Modric. Three young players will come in and improve a squad where the only exposed position is centre half, following Pepe’s departure. The question of the BBC remains. One of them would need to leave to facilitate Mbappé’s arrival, but there are many factors at play. It is not just about the football, but also good relationships, sour relationships, egos, and marketing.