Real Madrid: It’s hard to envision Dani Ceballos having a future at the club

Arsenal, Dani Ceballos (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Dani Ceballos (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos has been awfully quiet these past few months, and that’s not a good thing at all.

While Real Madrid fans are rightfully preoccupied with the futures of Takefusa Kubo and Reinier Jesus due to their lack of league minutes in their current loan spells, the most disappointing loanee has easily been Dani Ceballos.

He had an up-and-down first season with Arsenal on loan in 2019-2020. Ceballos played decently well to start with, but then he faded out of Unai Emery’s plans. Emery’s dismissal gave Ceballos hope, though, because after being linked with a new loan to La Liga, Ceballos decided to stay and fight for his place under Mikel Arteta. By the summer, Ceballos came from out of nowhere, emerging as a crucial player for Arsenal.

But in 2020-2021, Ceballos has been anything but vital to the club, as Arsenal are closer to the bottom three than they are to the top seven. It’s been a nightmare season for the North London side, and Ceballos has not been exempt from the harsh criticisms.

Ceballos is a nice footballer to watch, because he has great flicks and technique. But he plays a classic center midfield role in which he lies deep. He is not creative enough to play as an attacking midfielder, as evidenced by the overly simplistic passes he’s been playing for Arsenal. It’s come to the frustration of their fanbase, as Ceballos often seems invisible offensively. His actual numbers – which include 1.3 dribbles completed per game and a key pass per match, via – aren’t bad, but his actual play on the pitch leaves something to be desired.

Dani Ceballos can’t meet the high standards set in midfield at Real Madrid

At his best, Ceballos is a starting-caliber center midfielder who can make some aesthetically-pleasing plays and defend, but he isn’t great. Really, he’s never been great, and at the age of 24, we’ve honestly seen zero meaningful development from Ceballos. At Arsenal, Ceballos has the opportunity to show Real Madrid he can become a squad player for Los Blancos by shining in North London, but he isn’t making the most of his opportunities.

Real Madrid have world-class midfielders in Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Fede Valverde, and Martin Odegaard. But with only five players they can count on, they need one more man. And that man isn’t Ceballos, who is showing that his inconsistency makes him a class below what Real want. I mean, look at some of the fouls (thinking of the one on Yerry Mina against Everton) and trouble Ceballos is getting into. He’s making more headlines for the wrong reasons than for his play on the pitch.

Ceballos has shown quality at times for Arsenal, but he hasn’t shown enough of it. Real Madrid have the highest standard in midfield, which is set by Kroos and Modric, who lead by example as two of the world’s best. No, they don’t expect Ceballos or anyone in a backup role to be at that level, but I am sure Real would much rather cut ties with a mediocre player and spend on Houssem Aouar and Eduardo Camavinga.

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Los Blancos need to focus on quality right now, and Ceballos is a player who is quickly running out of chances to prove himself to them. If anything, these last few months have vindicated Zinedine Zidane’s decision to pass on the former Real Betis man.