Real Madrid confirmed the signing of 20-year-old midfielder Dani Ceballos early this Friday and the player will be unveiled at the Santiago Bernabeu next Thursday —July 20th—. Apparently, the player asked to stay with the first team this season even though Madrid wanted to send him on a loan deal. Granted his wish, will he have enough minutes with Madrid to keep progressing as a player?
Ceballos is a quality central-midfielder who can control the tempo of the game and distribute the ball effectively. He is also good at creating scoring opportunities, meaning that he can assist his teammates and finish plays close to the opponent’s box. However, he doesn’t excel at defending and his work-rate can improve, so he will need either Casemiro or Llorente alongside him to have freedom to operate. In other words, he can’t play the defensive midfielder spot.
James Rodriguez just left the club, so Ceballos might be a part of Zidane’s so-called B-team with Llorente, Kovacic and himself in the midfield. The question is: Will Isco be a starter or will Zidane still trust Gareth Bale? That very one thing could be crucial down the road. If Isco is a reserve, he will have to play in the midfield unless Zidane drops Lucas Vazquez or Asensio in favor of Ceballos, who could then be deployed in the midfield with Isco in a more attacking-oriented role. However, if Bale is the one on the bench when the big games come, it’s clear that Ceballos will have a role to play.
Still, this could all be meaningless knowing that coach Zidane might not even have a clear role for every player on the roster. Nobody expected Marco Asensio to become the team’s 12th player when the season started and he was a crucial contributor late in the campaign. Ceballos must look at what Asensio did right last season as he will have chances to prove his worth because of Zidane’s rotation policy. It will be up to him to make the best of them.