Chronic health problems threatened to stall Dani Ceballos's career as a youngster, but, having shone at the U21 EURO, the man compared to Andrés Iniesta has been snapped up by Real Madrid.
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The stand-out player at this summer's U21 EURO, midfielder Dani Ceballos has taken the next step in his career by joining Real Madrid from Real Betis. UEFA.com shines a light on a 20-year-old earmarked for greatness.
Name: Dani Ceballos
Club: Real Madrid
Born: 7 August 1996
Preferred foot: right
U21 international: 12 appearances, 10 goals
UEFA club competition: 0 appearances, 0 goals
Domestic top division: 64 appearances, 2 goals
They say ...
"Dani has shown that he is ready to make the leap to a big club. He's a brave player who isn't afraid of anything."
Pepe Mel, former Real Betis coach
"He is really talented, has impressive confidence and is capable of getting out of situations that would be impossible for a normal footballer. He has an abnormal ability to provide assists and has brilliant vision. The best thing is that he has the capacity to get even better."
Víctor Sánchez del Amo, former Betis coach
"Dani is a player with a lot of quality who makes everything easier for his team-mates. He always gives you the right pass so you can move the ball more comfortably. He makes everything simpler."
Rubén Pardo, former Betis club-mate
"Dani Ceballos is capable of playing for Real Madrid and has nothing to envy about the players at the club."
Vicente del Bosque, former Spain coach
Raised in Andalusia, Ceballos started out at Sevilla but left in 2009 after being diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. He overcame his physical problems with the help of a personal trainer and linked up with Sevilla's city rivals Real Betis, making his first-team debut in April 2014.
The following season, aged 18, he was pivotal as his side won the second-tier title to earn promotion. He ended the campaign with more silverware as Spain triumphed at the U19 EURO, and though the Roja missed out this summer at the U21 EURO, Ceballos was player of the tournament.
Playing style ...
An all-action midfielder, he never shies from defensive duties but is most comfortable plotting the team's attacks. He says: "My ideal position, and where I feel most comfortable, is at No8, behind the striker and creating play for the team."
Shades of ...
"I identify a lot with Andrés Iniesta and with Isco, players that play behind the striker and have absolute freedom to get the ball and move the team," says Ceballos. There is certainly an air of Iniesta to the diminutive Andalusian, who is as comfortable dictating the pace of the game as he is picking out a match-winning pass.
He says ...
"If you want to be a great midfielder it's not enough to have good vision, to get in the box and score goals; it's vital that you can also recover the ball, help your team-mates and work hard for the side."
"Last season, [2015/16] I felt I didn't perform as well as I should have. I spoke with my parents and they told me to focus only on football, and to forget everything else. That's what I did and I'm happy with what I'm achieving now."
"I'm a confidence player. When I see that things are going well and I'm on the crest of a wave, I know I have to keep going, to make sure I don't get distracted so I can keep gaining more and more confidence."
"[On being named player of the tournament at the U21 EURO] It's a bittersweet feeling. I'm pleased to be the best player but right now I'd swap the trophy to be a [European] champion."