REAL MADRID

Real Madrid change plan and want Dani Ceballos to return

The idea is for the midfielder to return for the pre-season. Madrid's elimination from the Champions League has changed the clubs plans for Odegaard and Ceballos.

Real Madrid change plan and want Dani Ceballos to return
CATHERINE IVILL Pool via REUTERS

Real Madrid's elimination from the Champions League by Manchester City came as a big disappointment to the club and will have consequences. It wasn't so much bowing out of the tournament before the quarter finals, as that was always a possibility following the result of the first leg. More worrying was the poor impression the team left at the Etihad, and the clear lack of resources to call on in what was the most important game of the season. For that reason, and bearing in mind the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic (the club won't be making any major signings this summer) Madrid's original plans for the players they have out on loan has changed. And especially in the cases of two players - Martin Ødegaard and Dani Ceballos.

Diario AS reported that the club's intention is now to bring the Norwegian midfielder back and they have the same idea for Ceballos. Just a month ago, there was a high probability that Ceballos would stay on for another season with Arsenal but his excellent end to the Premier League campaign has made Madrid think again. For the time being, the plan is for Ceballos to return to complete the pre-season with the first team squad. Club directors are convinced that the player can inject quality and bring freshness to the team after having shown that he has what it takes to play at the highest level in England and become one of the leading players at Arsenal - recently-crowned FA Cup winners after eliminating City and beating Chelsea in the final. Ceballos played a decisive role in the Gunners's Cup campaign and particularly in the later rounds.

Ceballos viewed as Modric's successor

Madrid chiefs have never doubted Ceballos' ability and feel he has the quality needed to succeed at the club. They are hoping that after his productive season in England, Zidane will finally find a place for him in his side. While Ceballos is expected to start the pre-season, it will be Zidane who will have the final word. The coach plans to sit down and discuss the situation with Dani. His characteristics make him a perfect alternative to Luka Modric who, at 34, will be beginning the final year of his contract at Madrid. Ceballos was signed in 2017 precisely as Modric's eventual successor and that moment has now arrived.

Due to the economic constraints caused by the coronavirus crisis, few clubs will be able to strengthen their squads at zero cost and with players of the calibre of Ødegaard and Ceballos. Until just a few days ago, it was expected that both players would stay on for another season on loan with Real Sociedad and Arsenal respectively.

A few weeks ago, Arsenal and Madrid discussed the possibility of Ceballos remaining in London, but now, it appears the situation is looking very different. The player is open to the idea of returning to Madrid to realise his dream of making a success of his career at the Bernabéu. But he is clear that if he does return, it will be with the expectation of being an important member of the squad. His big objective is to play next year's Euros and Olympic Games and to do that, he needs to be playing regularly and at the highest level. He has progressed from the player who joined the club as a Under-21 international in 2017 who was looking to gradually claim a place of his own in the team. He is now a regular for Spain's national team and a key player for Cup-winners Arsenal. His dream is to return... but only on the condition he plays.