As Real Madrid prepare to take on Real Sociedad in their first game after the international break, they have been handed a big boost.
Dani Ceballos has returned to training with the group and is expected to be available for the game against the Basque opposition. Considering the number of injuries the Merengues have endured so far this season, news of a return is certainly sweet.
The Spanish midfielder renewed his contract with Los Blancos earlier this summer and is contracted in Spain until June 2027.
Reports state that Carlo Ancelotti assured him regular minutes to ensure a renewal, but it is now unclear where Ceballos will fit into the starting lineup.
Aston Villa interested in Ceballos
Ceballos’ renewal at Real Madrid was not easy for the Spanish giants by any means. After all, it was always clear that Ancelotti viewed the 27-year-old as a backup option.
Aston Villa were one of the clubs who seriously considered signing Ceballos from Real Madrid in the recently concluded transfer window.
While it did not go through, El Desmarque reports that the Premier League side still maintain an interest in him.
The report states that Unai Emery continues to have a serious eye on Ceballos and has him as one of the priority signings for the month of January. He will continue talking to the player until then in the hope of convincing him to change scenery.
A certain lack of minutes
Last season, Ceballos served as Ancelotti’s first-choice replacement for Luka Modric when the Croatian international was unavailable. The situation this time around is contrasting.
Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga, and Aurelien Tchouameni have established themselves as regular starters in the middle of the park. Despite there being room for four midfielders in the diamond setup, there is only one spot for grabs in theory.
Considering that Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde and upcoming talent like Nico Paz are all competing for the spot, Ceballos could struggle to feature regularly in the Spanish capital.
But with Kroos and Modric likely to move on next summer, Ceballos could gain prominence and until then, a loan stint for the second half of the season could be a beneficial move for everyone involved.
Real Madrid rising star suffered against Atletico due to veteran forward’s absence, says Simeone
Real Madrid’s 3-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid was not the first time were in trouble this season. In fact, the Merengues have gone behind early in almost every league game so far.
However, the difference on Sunday night was that they never really mounted a comeback. More importantly, Jude Bellingham did not come good, for the first time.
Simeone unravels the mystery
A jubilant Diego Simeone spoke to the media after his side downed Real Madrid by three goals to one and spoke about a plethora of topics.
Interestingly, he commented specifically on why Bellingham did not have an impact at Civitas Metropolitano, citing the absence of Joselu as a key factor.
“No, the spaces were reduced and I think that Joselu’s lack of presence left him with fewer chances to get there, when he takes advantage of Joselu’s aerial play. We controlled him better, he’s extraordinary,” he said, as quoted by AS.
He even called out the refereeing on the night and insisted that the Real Madrid star-boy should have seen red for his late tackle on Angel Correa, saying:
“It looked like a sending-off to me live, it was a hard leg up, with Angelito hitting the ball.”
Ironically, he defended his defender Jose Maria Gimenez for an equally threatening tackle on the night.
“A bad foul, it’s a yellow card because it goes sideways. Bellingham goes from the front and I think it’s a bit more,” he stated paradoxically.
No time to lament
The game at Civitas Metropolitano may not have gone Real Madrid’s way. Yet, it is good for the Merengues to taste defeat early and see the gaping holes in their dynamic.
Carlo Ancelotti admitted in his press conference that he bore the lion’s share of the fault for Sunday’s loss and that he would have done things differently if given the chance.
“Maybe I could have done it better. It’s pretty clear. When the team doesn’t do what it has to do, it’s my responsibility,” he stated.
Nevertheless, Los Blancos have a hectic schedule ahead with two games in the next five days and a UCL fixture against Napoli next week. With Vinicius Jr back, one hopes they find their mojo once again.