Dani Ceballos put on a virtuoso display in our last fixture, providing the catalyst for victory in the face of some fierce resistance.
Floating between a box to box midfielder and putting out fires both in possession and in stymying the opposition – and providing passes that helped the passage of play flow toward our attack.
He was what our game needed him to be and best of all? His close control in the tightest of situations was reminiscent of some our more recent midfield leading lights – a la Cazorla and Rosicky.
We may be jumping the gun a bit. It is one performance against a team that were set up to contain, rather than dictate the play. He ran rings around a midfield that was not on his level, talent wise, and he took full advantage.
The true test is when he puts his wits against players who share the same traits, and that will happen this coming weekend when we play Liverpool.
Ceballos laid on both goals for our star strikers but he did so much more than that in the time he was on the pitch. He played more passes and key passes than anyone – and this is even more surprising when you take into consideration that this was his first full game in England.
The key characteristic helping him adapt is that unlike most technical players, he can mix it when he needs to. Burnley’s roughhouse tactics were shrugged off and he went about his business.
What is the bottom line though – is that this will only end in heartbreak.
It is well known that Ceballos desire is to return to Real, rather than leave for another club. There is no buy option at the end of the loan, there is no improved terms should we bid for the player. It is a simple one year loan so Ceballos can play first class football and improve, then return to Madrid a better player.
We seem to have one hell of a player on our hands, which makes his impending return all the harder to swallow.
Let us watch and enjoy Ceballos in action while we can – and try to forget how we intend to replace what seems to be one very special player.