Ceballos rules out Barcelona switch – my dream is to succeed at Real Madrid

By Sports Desk June 08, 2021

Dani Ceballos is planning to hold talks with Real Madrid over his future, but a transfer to Barcelona would never be an option for the midfielder.

Ceballos impressed in his first season on loan at Arsenal but was unable to make such an impact in the 2020-21 campaign.

In 40 appearances across all competitions, he provided three assists – from a total of 41 opportunities created – yet failed to score himself.

A passing accuracy of 87.61 per cent last season also ranks him below the average (88.01) of Arsenal midfielders, albeit only Granit Xhaka (3,107) attempted more passes than Ceballos (1,865).

With Carlo Ancelotti having just been appointed as Madrid's new coach, Ceballos is expecting things to be different to how they were under Zinedine Zidane.

Though while he is determined to succeed at Madrid, he has acknowledged his future may lay elsewhere.

"Ancelotti has just arrived and we need to talk," he said on Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.

"I think this year I have hardened as a player. I think it is time to settle in a club with a long contract and to be able to show my game. 

"Ancelotti has just arrived and we need to talk. I want to know what he wants from me and also tell him what I want, which is important. I'm not going to the Euros and soon there will be a World Cup. It has to be a talk between the two of us with clear things.

"It is not the same to be involved in the dynamics of a club with a long contract, as it is to be on loan. It is something that these last two years I did not have and I want to settle down, play and be happy."

Moves which would never come to fruition for the 24-year-old would be a switch to the Camp Nou or Sevilla.

Asked if he would consider a move to the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus or Barca, Ceballos replied: "I would not go to Barcelona because I am a Madrid player and my dream is to succeed at Madrid."

When quizzed on a transfer to Andalusia, he added: "It is a great club, but I would never play for Sevilla, especially having my [time at] Betis."

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    Austria boss Franco Foda has a selection dilemma in Bucharest as he bids to deliver the country's first ever win at the European Championship.

    No team have played more games at the Euros without earning at least one win than Austria, who have fallen short in all six of their past finals fixtures.

    The Group C clash with North Macedonia on Sunday is one in which many expect Austria to prevail, but Foda must decide whether Marko Arnautovic, the team's star forward, starts the match.

    Arnautovic has indicated he feels ready for a pivotal role after recovering from a thigh injury, but there is no certainty the 32-year-old will play from the start.

    The former West Ham man, now with Shanghai Port, played half an hour for Austria in a friendly against Slovakia last Sunday but Foda may prefer a match-fit Sasa Kalajdzic to lead his attack.

    Foda said in a pre-game news conference: "Ultimately, I have to make the decision about whether Marko is ready for 90 minutes or not."

    A fit and firing Arnautovic's value to his country is obvious, having been directly involved in seven goals in his eight appearances during the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign (six goals, one assist).

    Foda also kept North Macedonia guessing about where David Alaba will feature, the erstwhile Bayern Munich star and new Real Madrid recruit being a top performer both in defence and midfield.

    "We have decided where he will play," Foda said, but gave no detail about that decision.

    The Austria coach added: "We can make history, and we want to. We absolutely want to win and start the European Championship with a positive result. I have a good feeling."

    North Macedonia are making their big-tournament debut as an independent nation and proud captain Goran Pandev said: "Believe that we are ready and we will do our best to make the public and the Macedonian people happy again."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Austria - Marcel Sabitzer

    Sabitzer is coming off a strong season in the German Bundesliga with RB Leipzig and has been linked with clubs including Roma and Arsenal. Austria have plenty of decent pedigree in their squad, but the man who scored eight goals and had three assists on league duty for his club side last term, creating 30 chances in all, is one of a handful with real star quality.

    North Macedonia - Goran Pandev

    At the age of 37, Pandev leads his country on the big stage, and what a moment it will be for him. A star forward in Serie A for over 15 years, notably with Lazio, Inter, Napoli and Genoa, Pandev may be past his prime but he will hope to lead by example at this tournament.

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - These teams have only played each other twice before – both times in qualifying for this tournament – with Austria winning those matches 4-1 and 2-1.

    - Including the play-off rounds, North Macedonia won each of their final three games in Euro 2020 qualifying – as many as they had won in their previous nine games of the qualifying campaign beforehand (D2 L4).

    - Austria have yet to reach the knockout stages or even win a single game at the European Championships (D2 L4).

    - Austria have won only one of their last 15 games at major tournaments (D5 L9 – World Cups and Euros), a 2-1 victory against United States in the group phase of the 1990 World Cup. They last reached the knockout stages of a major tournament at the 1954 World Cup, finishing third.

    - Austria have scored only two goals in their six games at the European Championship finals; one of them was a penalty (Ivica Vastic vs Poland, Euro 2008). They have never been ahead at any point in those six games.

    - North Macedonia's 1.25 goals scored per game during Euro 2020 qualifiers (15 in 12 games) was the joint-lowest average of any team to have qualified for the finals, alongside Wales.

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    Henry (3-36) got one to nip back at Dom Sibley (8), who could only squirt the ball to Daryl Mitchell in the cordon, and it was 30-3 when the seamer trapped the off-colour Zak Crawley lbw for 17.

    Crawley reviewed more in hope than expectation, much like Ollie Pope, whose breezy 23 off 20 balls ended when all-action left arm paceman Neil Wagner brought one back in to the right hander.

    Like Burns, Dan Lawrence followed passing 80 in the first innings with a second-ball duck, Wagner (3-18) having him caught behind before Ajaz Patel again exposed the folly of England failing to pick a specialist spinner.

    Patel bowled James Bracey (8) sweeping and when Root edged to keeper Tom Blundell when trying to cut the slow left-armer – concluding a painstaking 11 from 61 deliveries – the game was emphatically up for his side.

    That brought Mark Wood and Olly Stone together with the score on 76-7, something of an unfair predicament for the two fast bowlers, who worked tirelessly on a fairly benign surface to briefly bring their team back into the contest.

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    Team-mates and referee Anthony Taylor called for immediate help from medical staff, with the players forming a protective barrier around Eriksen while efforts were made to resuscitate him.

    UEFA soon confirmed the match had been suspended "due to a medical emergency".

    A further update followed and confirmed Eriksen was now in hospital, with a crisis meeting set for later on Saturday.

    UEFA's statement read: "Following the medical emergency involving Denmark's player Christian Eriksen, a crisis meeting has taken place with both teams and match officials and further information will be communicated at 19:45 CET.

    "The player has been transferred to the hospital and has been stabilised."

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    Former club Tottenham – where he spent six and a half years – posted on Twitter: "All of our thoughts are with Christian Eriksen and his family."

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    The news conference was cancelled and the Football Association said: "Our thoughts this evening are with Christian Eriksen and his family, and all connected with the Danish Football Union."

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