Real Madrid, Barcelona target Dani Ceballos: I'll decide future in two weeks
Real Madrid and Barcelona target Dani Ceballos has reacted to speculation over his future, with the young Real Betis midfielder saying it will be two weeks before he decides his future.
Homegrown Betis playmaker Ceballos, 20, was named player of the tournament at this summer's European Under-21 Championship, with his performances as Spain reached the final making his €15 million release clause appear excellent value.
With sports media in Madrid and Barcelona since making competing claims that he was set for either club, Ceballos and his representatives met with new Betis coach Quique Setien, club president Angel Haro and vice president Lorenzo Serra Ferrer to discuss his future on Tuesday afternoon.
Leaving that meeting at the Benito Villamarin, he told reporters that "You will see me speak in two weeks," without giving any further details about his intentions.
On Wednesday, Marca's front page claimed Ceballos has said "yes to Madrid, but..." with the condition he would not be sent out on loan for 2017-18, and that Los Blancos must sell James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata to make a space for him in their squad.
AS said Ceballos was "practically convinced" to join Madrid, while Juventus and Atletico have also made him offers, and that the fee was going to go over his release clause to close to €20m. Both Madrid papers claimed that it would be 48 hours, not two weeks, when the situation was resolved.
Mundo Deportivo have a different perspective, saying that Ceballos would ultimately prefer to join Barca, who have a big ally in Betis' Serra Ferrer, a former Blaugrana coach who retains close links to the Camp Nou.
The Clasico rivalry element to the speculation recalls previous summer battles between Spain's big two clubs over transfer targets. Just 12 months ago, Barca were said to have "stolen" Portugal midfielder Andre Gomes, who had seemed set to join Madrid. And selling club Valencia were able to leverage the situation into a deal which included clauses up to €70m.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan