During this interview, Ceballos detailed his struggles last season under manager Zinedine Zidane as well as looking forward to the year ahead under new coach, Julen Lopetegui.
Following his estimated €20 million move to Real Madrid last summer, Dani Ceballos would have been forgiven to expect a lot more playing time than he managed last season. In this interview, he was clearly hurt by simply being a bench warmer. This hurt and pain was directed toward his manager at times during the season, as Dani Ceballos indicated toward himself:
“During the regular season, I felt frustration and resentment towards Zidane.”
Some would easily argue that Real Madrid were on course to win an unprecedented third Champions League in a row. However, as the midfielder explains below, there were ample opportunities for game time in the league as Barcelona were in cruise control toward La Liga triumph:
“There was a moment in the season when both Kroos and Modric were injured but he opted to change the style of play to bring in others players instead. It burns you a little and hurts you. We were 15 points behind Barca and only had the Champions League to look forward to but I also did not enter those dynamics.”
To make up for the lack of competitiveness and football, Dani Ceballos took it upon himself to hire a personal trainer, in order to ensure he was maintaining a high standard of fitness – in the rare occasion he would be called upon by Zidane.
“I hired a personal trainer in January, because I did not play Wednesday or Sunday and the intensity goes down, I was looking for a full stop in the preseason.”
During the year, it was clear that the new Spanish national team player received help and support from fellow Real Madrid teammates in Mateo Kovacic and Marco Asensio:
“They told me that they were also in my situation, five or six days without summoning, Marco told me that Madrid was not easy, Mateo that the first years he wanted to leave … Few players have played at Madrid with 20 years.”
Despite being overlooked last season and evidently holding some pain from being ostracised, Dani Ceballos looks back on the season, and Zidane in particular with a very mature outlook:
“Last year was not a good year for me, but as a footballer he gave me maturity, he was clear with me and I do not hold a grudge. where he played, maybe he did not know what a player feels on the bench, it will also help him in the future not to make the mistakes he has made here.”
The 22 year old is taking a much different approach to the season ahead with new manager, Julen Lopetegui in the driving seat. Having already featured in two of Real Madrid’s opening three La Liga games, Dani Ceballos is positive for what the 2018-19 season can bring:
“He is trying to impose his style, which is different from the one we had last year … He wants a serious team who is ambitious with the ball. He likes to play with lots of possession and an attacking instinct.”
Naturally, Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus was brought up. Ceballos has great faith in the ability of his fellow teammates to fill the void left behind by Ronaldo.
“At Real Madrid that has always been great players, Cristiano is no longer here but the team is still working. Benzema, Asensio and Bale are stepping up and throwing the team on their backs. Cristiano’s 40 goals are gone but the top players can do it.”
It remains to be seen whether the former Real Betis man will make his national team debut against England on Saturday, after he was called up for new manager, Luis Enrique’s first squad. What is for certain, is that he is ready to fight and make up for lost time last season and to push Real Madrid for a four-in-a-row Champions League triumph.