How could an injury to Luka Modric affect Dani Ceballos’ future at Real Madrid?
The Croat’s upcoming absence could give out-of-contract Ceballos the chance to shine ahead of decisive Copa del Rey and Champions League games.
An injury to the “irreplaceable” Luka Modric has left Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti with a serious selection headache ahead of the Copa del Rey final against Osasuna and the Champions League semi-final versus Manchester City. Not that the Italian doesn’t have midfield options to replace the Croat, with Dani Ceballos the most natural choice, as Ancelotti himself said yesterday in his pre-match press conference before Saturday’s LaLiga clash against Almería.
Ceballos set for Real Madrid contract talks
Now is the time for Ceballos to stand up and be counted. The midfielder is out of contract at the end of the season but his future should become clearer this week, with a meeting scheduled with the club to discuss a new deal. A couple of big performances in two huge games could ensure negotiations go as smoothly as possible.
Ancelotti’s midfield options to replace Modric
Despite his comments, Ancelotti could opt for a less ‘predictable’ alternative, such as moving Eduardo Camavinga into midfield and drafting Nacho in at left-back. Even Aurélien Tchouaméni, who has fallen out of favour somewhat, could come back into the reckoning. “In general, we have a lot of options”, said the Madrid coach yesterday. “Camavinga, Tchouaméni. There are many alternatives. Although he [Modric] is an irreplaceable player because of his experience in these matches”.
Ceballos’ lack of big-time playing time
Ceballos hasn’t played from the start in any of Los Blancos’ biggest games of the season so far. He was a substitute in the two previous Champions League ties agianst Liverpool and Chelsea, playing a total of 40 minutes in the four matches. He came on for only five minutes in the UEFA Super Cup win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the start of the season, featured for 41 minutes across two games at the FIFA Club World Cup in February and a minute less in two Spanish Super Cup fixtures the previous month.
The biggest games Ceballos has started have come against Atlético Madrid and, even then, he was taken off in the second half. He played 76 minutes of the Copa del Rey quarter-final, which was settled in extra-time, and just over an hour of the league draw between the teams.
Ceballos’ cup final audition against Almería
However, a place in the starting eleven is up for grabs for the cup final, which will just happen to be played in his native Seville. With Ancelotti likely to make changes to his team against Almería following Tuesday’s disappointing defeat to Girona, Ceballos is likely to be given the chance to impress and stake a claim to play against La Cartuja at Osasuna. The pressure is very much on.