Written by Aswin Priyadarshan
Spain renowned for producing world class talents has seen a flurry of talents being brought to the forefront in the last decade, some have hit the headlines & have managed to make it big, other meanwhile have fizzled out due to various reasons.
One could credit the system in the Spanish league which has not seen the kind of revenue & TV rights compared to the Premier League in England which saw even the relegated Sunderland side net close to £ 100m even after finishing 20th in the table which got them relegated. Despite earning only £1.9m as prize money, the “Black Cats” earned a sum of £93.5m after considering their income from TV Rights in UK & Overseas TV rights which earned them a tidy sum of £35.3m & £39.1m respectively.
Taking into total, Sunderland has earned more for finishing last in the Premier League than what Italian champions Juventus, Bavarian juggernauts Bayern Munich & the French champions AS Monaco earned for winning their respective domestic leagues.
The absence of such a structure in Liga, forces minnows & commoners from the likes of newly promoted Deportivo Alavés, Sporting de Gijón to even midtable teams like Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad & Villarreal to promote the use of academy talents in their day to day games, sometimes without rotation which gives these youngsters their much-needed exposure to big games. Spanish talents have flooded international leagues in search of game time & their needed exposure to make it to the National team.
Biggest teams even in their domestic leagues have not shied away from plucking talents in their same leagues, big names sometimes prefer buying them at a young age & integrate them into their academy so that they get used to the new background & atmosphere. Real Madrid CF, a club which does not require any introduction is one such club which has changed its signing policy under their stalwart president & Spanish businessman Florentino Perez. With the dawn of their famed “la Decima”, Perez has changed their club transfer policy and now concentrates more on signing young talents far & wide & recruiting the best talents in Spain, the signing of Marco Aseniso from RCD Mallorca for a fee of €3.9m in 2014, a club then taken care of my ex-Barcelona Center-Back Miguel Angel Nadal, uncle of the famed tennis icon Rafael Nadal. Asensio was then loaned back to Mallorca for a season, spent the next season on loan at Espanyol CF & was included in the Real Madrid squad in the squad by Zidane in the preseason of 2016-17 season. His debut game vs Sevilla in the UEFA Supercup saw him score a screamer & he has made heads turn with his goals & playing style, from his match sealing goal against Bayern Munich to the nail on the coffin in the 90th minute in the Champions League final vs Juventus at Cardiff, which saw Real Madrid lift the Champions league title successfully, becoming the 1st team to do so in the current format after the introduction of Club World Cup.
Real Madrid has given Asensio his much-needed support, there are other countless player in every nook & corner of Spain who have seen such development with lesser ranked teams. Iñaki Williams, a 23-year-old forward from Bilbao, who has played more than 75 games for the senior team & has formed a formidable attacking force with the veteran Spanish striker Artiz Aduriz. Now currently with the Spanish U21 squad at the U21 Euros at Poland, with Spain beating Portugal U21 team & Macedonia U21 to proceed to the semi-finals of the tournament. His group photo in the changing room with the Madrid squad mates (Marco Asensio, Marcos Llorente & Jesus Vallejo) after their victory 1-3 victory against Portugal U21 & reaching the semis, has caused quite a storm & has reignited the rumours of a move to Real Madrid.
One such player who is currently at the same tournament & with the same squad is the Spanish talent “Dani” Ceballos. Daniel Ceballos Fernandez also called “Dani” Ceballos, is quite a famous name among Spanish league regulars. A Spanish native, who joined Sevilla academy at the age of 8, was released after a few years in 2009 due to a chronic Bronchitis. His hometown club FC Utrera took him under their ranks after seeing his talents, which earned him a move to Real Betis in 2014. The young talent from then has gone hand to hand and has raked up more than 90 caps for the senior team, being a part of their promotion from the Sergunda Division in 14-15 season where Betis emerged champions & has represented Spain at the U19 level, winning the UEFA Under 19 Euros & being included in the team of the tournament in 2015 & has gone on to represent his country at the U21 level.
Style & Play
Dani Ceballos is a central midfielder by play, but also deputes at the defensive midfield when needed. He performs when required & is the heart of the Real Betis team. Being recognized in the position where he performs is not an easy task for a 20-year youngster. From his defensive contribution to the team to dictating the tempo, Ceballos is versatile and manages to slot in seamlessly when required. His tireless running & impact on & off the ball makes him stand apart from the average Betis teammates in a team which finished 10th in the 2016-17 league campaign. Ceballos is not just brilliant with the ball, he provides a tidy pass to his teammates when required, though he prefers to take on the opponents all by himself with his pace & acceleration.
The No. 10, who is 176cms tall is a strong dribbler (2.2 dribbles/game) & is good in holding the ball & shielding it. His defensive contribution is surely worth appreciating & is a strong tackler (an avg. of 3.1 tackles/game) & 1.9 interceptions/game. With more than 1022 passes this season, he has an 81% pass accuracy out of which 81% of the passes were forward passes. The dynamic midfielder has created 38 chances for the Andalusians & has 2 assists to his name.
A lot said about the strengths of Dani Ceballos, his style of play & positioning sees him getting fouled more often by his opponents, having a good eye for a ball, he also plays long balls & shoots from a distance. Ceballos has a poor finishing rate, having scored only 2 goals in 30 appearances in Liga for the team, has a 50-50 shot accuracy. Playing at the heart of the team, he tends to commit fouls and that has seen him receive 8 yellow cards this season. He has 0 defensive errors & averages 2 defensive actions & 3.1 tackles per game
One of the leading creators & tempo dictators at the club, the player is poor when it comes to aerial duels (being less than 6-foot-tall), he is also not the best person who would cross a ball directly to the striker from the wing, though his acceleration & pace would help him in reaching the opponent corner faster than his opposing wing backs, his poor crossing however is the biggest drawback.
Not the man-mountain in the midfield, or the commanding midfielder. Currently he is in his developmental stage & is yet to earn a call-up for the senior team, but has shown the capacity to handle at the top flight of Spanish football, with Betis team currently providing the necessary backup to be the best in business.
Dani Ceballos has renewed his contract in 2015 and is committed to Betis till 2020, but reliable sources believe his release clause to be at €15 million (£13m). Real Madrid has shown interest in the youngster during his breakthrough season at Real Betis, but went on to sign Lucas Silva, a Brazilian who later was diagnosed with a health condition. Real now look to offload the Brazilian & could end up snapping the Spain U21 star as a possible replacement for the Brazilian. Perez who is fresh after winning the Madrid presidential election, could sign him as a long-term replacement for Luka Modrić, with the Croatian turning 32 at the start of the 2017-18 season.
It is rumoured that Perez is likely to follow a tried & successful model of promoting youngsters, where he’s handpicked talents & loaned them back to the club & later drafted into the Madrid 1st team after a successful loan deal. With Perez drafting a similar model for his U21 teammates Jesús Vallejo (Eintracht Frankfurt), Marcos Llorente (Deportivo Alavés) & Borja Mayoral (Wolfsburg). With all 3 set to return to Madrid in summer due to the departure of Pepe & Vallejo set to fill in for him & Borja Mayoral to be an understudy for Frenchman Karim Benzema, with Morata rumoured to reunite with ex-Madrid coach Jose Mourinho at England, who gave him his debut at Real Madrid & Mariano Díaz to be sold with a buyback to Lyon as a replacement for Alexandre Lacazette.
Dani Ceballos might not be an immediate player at Real Madrid upon his switch, but he could be the next in line for the Spanish core of players who are soon to rise in the next 2-3 years & expected to dominate Real Madrid for the next 7-8 seasons.
Atletico Madrid were the other team interested in him, but their current transfer ban & the tweet by Marcos Llorente on twitter, has put their city rivals Real Madrid on the front seat, as the favourites to sign Ceballos. With Madrid based daily DiarioAS reporting on 24th June 2017, that Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, Betis Vice President meeting with Real Madrid Director José Ángel Sánchez at the Bernabéu, further news about the transfer materialising have intensified.
All stats & data taken from Squawka& whoscored.com