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The redemption arc of Dani Ceballos

Looking at two aspects that signify Dani Ceballos's rise back to an essential role at Real Madrid.

Villarreal CF v Real Madrid CF - Copa Del Rey Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Dani Ceballos signed for Real Madrid way back in 2017-18. Looking back at that time now, it seems like a completely different reality. Madrid had high hopes for Ceballos when he was signed as one of the prized possessions in Spanish football. Based on his time in the youth levels of the national team, as well as in the first team of Real Betis, Ceballos was primed to be the next big thing in Spain.

Reality is often anticlimactic.

Ceballos almost became a forgotten figure at Real Madrid after a disappointing loan stint away at Arsenal. The Spaniard also had some lengthy injury issues.

But an array of lights appeared at the end of the tunnel when he was trusted with some minutes at the business end of last season. The Spaniard had left Carlo Ancelotti impressed in those minutes.

This season, however, Ceballos has managed to grab the opportunity of his continued minutes with both hands. His presence on both ends of the pitch has been nothing less than crucial to Ancelotti’s side. He has added a dynamism to Real Madrid's midfield and has helped find solutions in a team that has often been too predictable.

Here are three stats from Ceballos’s La Liga campaign that help us to better understand Ceballos’ importance in the team:

Ball Progression

Ceballos has 108 progressive passes in La Liga this season, only behind Luka Modric (126) and Toni Kroos (180) on the Real Madrid roster. Kroos has played 1281 mins in La Liga this season so far. Ceballos has played just 760 mins.

Ceballos is also among the top 10 players on the team for progressive carries:

Defensive work

Only Aurelien Touchameni has made more interceptions p90 than Dani Ceballos in La Liga for Real Madrid this season. And only Eduardo Camavinga has won more tackles p90 than Dani Ceballos in La Liga for Ancelotti’s team. No first-team player has made more ball recoveries p90 than Dani Ceballos in La Liga:

Another testament to his hard work — Dani Ceballos is making Real Madrid re-think their summer plans, especially in midfield. A renewal offer could reportedly be on the table, which wasn’t the case even a few months back.

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