Real Madrid: Dani Ceballos is showing that maybe Zidane made the wrong call...
While Real Madrid have been left with just four midfielders for the rest of the season, Ceballos is turning on the style for Arsenal and Spain.
Dani Ceballos made the most of his call-up for the Spain squad to show his worth. It is with the national team where Ceballos feels the most comfortable - regardless of the category. He shone for the Under-19 - picking up the MVP at the European championships, he emulated that form with the Under-21s and now he is hitting the same high level for the senior side. During Luis Enrique's time at the helm, he put in some excellent performances and new coach Robert Moreno included him in his starting XI for his first game in charge against Romania. Ceballos didn't disappoint - far from it, it was his wonderful, defence-splitting outside-of-the boot pass which set up Paco Alcácer for the team's second goal, not long after he had won a penalty for the opener.
Zidane didn't oppose selling Ceballos
Even at this early stage of the season, it's becoming clear that Madrid were wise not to sell him over the summer (he's on loan at Arsenal who have the option to buy him outright). But that decision was more down to the player than the club. Zidane did not oppose the possibility of selling Ceballos (in the same way he didn't stand in the way of Marcos Llorente leaving to join Atlético). The player though, was adamant that he would only leave on loan. Madrid, whose directors can see the talent he has, agreed. Zidane has rarely given Ceballos a chance to demonstrate the player he is - and the way he has designed his squad for this season only underlines what he thinks of him - he was not against Ceballos leaving even if it left him with just four natural midfielders: Casemiro, Kroos, Modric and Valverde).
Despite Zidane's lack of faith, Ceballos has not given up hope of succeeding at Real Madrid. That's why he preferred to go out on loan to have the chance to reproduce the kind of form he showed at last summer's European Under-21 Championship - or in his words, “To gain consistency and play 40 games”. He chose Arsenal ahead of Tottenham because Unai Emery had spoken to him personally and his family and convinced him that he would never be short of regular playing time at the Emirates.
Settled in the Premier League
For the time being, it seems to be the right choice - apart from his impressive game for Spain at the weekend, Ceballos is showing a high level in the Premier League with Arsenal. It took his just one game to win his place in the side and he is already showing his qualities - two assists and a goal against Burnley on his debut earned him the Man of the Match award. He followed that up with a starting place against Liverpool and came on as a second half sub against Tottenham (another bright performance). He's sending a clear message to Zidane that he should find a niche for him at Madrid next year...
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