Madrid daily MARCA’s front page Monday claims that Atlético Madrid have “made a second call” to a representative of Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos — in hopes of signing the midfielder when his contract expires in three months.
MARCA first ran this story last month, even claiming Atlético had tabled a contract offer for the 26-year-old. The report Monday says Ceballos is “still waiting for a gesture” from the Real Madrid board over a new contract, and in response to the uncertainty, Los Blancos’s crosstown rivals are pushing:
Real Madrid wanted to let the intense February and March months pass before negotiating renewals for the seven players on expiring contracts. ... One of them is Dani Ceballos, who was able to demonstrate throughout the winter months that his football is at a Real Madrid standard.
The report from José Félix Díaz continues:
It is striking that, as the player himself confessed to MARCA, no one from Real Madrid has given him any indication so far (as to the progress of a renewal). Other clubs have taken notice and have asked about the Andalusian midfielder’s situation. One of them is Atlético de Madrid. Twice, a rojiblanco emissary has asked those around Ceballos for information — the last time, a couple weeks ago.
The relationship between Atlético and Real Madrid is said to be “practically broken” following this season’s three derby meetings, each of which included controversial decisions that appeared to favor Los Blancos and drew Atlético’s ire — Ceballos was at the heart of one such incident. So there are no obstacles if Atleti want to pursue a Madrid player — or vice versa.
Díaz says Atlético “do not want to miss this opportunity” to sign Ceballos, even as the Spain midfielder has given priority to Real Madrid. Atlético’s purported interest in Ceballos is hardly new, dating to his breakthrough season at Real Betis. And Díaz expects Madrid will wait to see how the Champions League and Copa del Rey campaigns conclude before offering Ceballos a new deal — the Santiago Bernabéu hierarchy does not intend to get into a bidding war for a player on the rise.
Ceballos’s 10 league starts this season are his most in LaLiga in six years. He is one of Real Madrid’s leaders in touches and shot-creating actions (SCA) per 90, as well as progressive passes and passes into the final third. We’ll see just how long Ceballos is willing to wait, but given Madrid need to start planning for a future without Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos, it seems very unlikely that president Florentino Pérez will let the ex-Arsenal midfielder get away — especially if Atlético really are interested.
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