Reports: Liverpool target £57m Real Madrid star to replace Philippe Coutinho in January
What's the story?
Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos is being lined up as Phillipe Coutinho's replacement at Liverpool in January, according to a report in Spanish news outlet, SPORT. The player's representatives have reportedly already made contact with the Premier League side, as Ceballos is reportedly unhappy at the lack of action afforded to him by Zinedine Zidane, despite Los Blancos' woes this season.
However, the move is only possible if Barcelona are to pay the Reds' asking price for Coutinho - with Jurgen Klopp increasingly resigned to losing his Brazilian playmaker in January. Thus, the power-brokers at Anfield have lined up multiple replacements, with Ceballos topping the list - although Real Madrid might hold out for a large fee, in the range of £57 million
In case you didn't know...
Dani Ceballos began his footballing career at the age of 8 in Sevilla's youth system but was let go due to a recurring bronchitis problem. He joined Real Betis in 2011, before signing a professional contract in 2014. Such was Ceballos' quality that he was fast-tracked from the academy straight into the first team, without even turning out for the B-team. However, it was his performances for Spain's U-21 side that caused a tug-of-war, with Real Madrid beating Barcelona to his signing this summer.
The heart of the matter
Los Blancos seemed to have pulled off a massive coup when they signed Ceballos for a paltry fee of €18 million, even going so far as to slap a massive €500 million release clause in his contract. With Ceballos' deal running for the next six years, Liverpool are in a disadvantageous position when it comes to negotiating his price.
However, it seems the player is adamant on leaving in the January transfer window, as he still holds out hope for making Spain's World Cup squad. Things have gone sour for him at Real Madrid, as Ceballos has barely been given a sniff by Zinedine Zidane. Given that the Reds have just spent a world record fee on Virgil van Dijk, Real Madrid might demand a princely sum as well.
Even if Philippe Coutinho does leave Liverpool for Barcelona, the likelihood of Real Madrid letting Dani Ceballos go seems remote, as Los Blancos have tied him down to a long contract and imposed a massive release clause. However, it would be in the player's best interests to leave Real Madrid at the moment, so perhaps a loan move would suit all parties.