3 Real Madrid players for whom the rest of 2021-22 is make-or-break

Real Madrid, Luka Jovic (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Luka Jovic (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Dani Ceballos, Carlo Ancelotti
Real Madrid, Dani Ceballos, Carlo Ancelotti (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

CM Dani Ceballos

We’ve heard Carlo Ancelotti make statements in the media about how Dani Ceballos will be important, and he’s given the Spanish midfielder three total appearances between LaLiga and the Copa del Rey. Still, those two league appearances only add up to 23 minutes, and it feels more like Ancelotti was trying to keep Ceballos happy. The words of importance ring hollow.

Ceballos is likely to leave Madrid this summer. He is in the Jesus Vallejo and Mariano Diaz bracket, in the sense that he is a backup with no long-term future at Real Madrid. The club just does not have a spot for him after signing Eduardo Camavinga to be the future 8 across from Fede Valverde in the formation. With Aurelien Tchouameni potentially on the way, Ceballos is extra in midfield. And all of this does not even mention the talented prospect Antonio Blanco, though he is admittedly a strong candidate for a loan.

What’s wild about all this? Ceballos is only 25. That’s young for a playmaking center midfielder in LaLiga. Ceballos can be a great 8 in this league, and perhaps a move back to Real Betis, as has been rumored for years, could benefit him. There are a number of LaLiga clubs around the Europa League level who could use Ceballos. He could still be a star in this league.

So if Ceballos is all but guaranteed to leave, why is this a make-or-break time for him? Well, if he were so impressive, you would think that Betis, Valencia, and others would be jumping to sign him. The issue is that he has not shown anything on the pitch after a disastrous second year at Arsenal, which undermined his strong close to the 2019-2020 season.

Ceballos has to prove he is worth someone taking on his full wages and that he can walk in and be a starter for a team with aspirations. We know Ceballos wants to get into the national team picture, and we also know he is quite mercurial. The 2021-2022 season will be a test of his resolve. You never know when your number will get called, which happened as recently as the last match against Granada, and Ceballos has to be ready to impress. His contract expires after 2022-2023, and he surely does not want to wallow around on the Madrid bench for another year. Real don’t want that either.