Introducing Spain’s latest prodigal son.
Few people were really talking about Dani Ceballos before the recent Under-21 European Championships.
But the Real Betis midfielder introduced himself to the big stage with a string of eye-catching and commanding performances for Spain that saw him rewarded with the Player of the Tournament accolade.
Ceballos has drawn comparisions with Barcelona great Andres Iniesta, capable of gliding past opponents effortlessly with composure and guile.
Ceballos and Iniesta do differ in one glaring way though – the 20-year-old is all set for Real Madrid with a medical reportedly scheduled for Tuesday as the European champions continue to poach the country’s best talents.
But why is he such a controversial figure in Spain?
For a player still in his tender years, he’s already attracted a substantial amount of criticism for a series of outspoken rants on social media.
During the 2015 Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, Catalan and Basque supporters joined forces to roundly boo the Spanish national anthem.
That didn’t sit well with an 18-year-old old Ceballos, who tweeted saying he hoped a bomb would drop “on the stands and kill those Catalan and Basque dogs”.
Previously, Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas were on his hit list for celebrating Spain’s Euro 2012 success with a Catalan flag.
Ceballos branded the then Barcelona duo “shameless” and tweeted telling them to “Get out of the country, Catalans!”
Despite the pretty glaring nationalist views, he’s also praised the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar in the past while simultaneously criticising Cristiano Ronaldo.
That could make for an awkward first training session should his proposed £12m deal go through at the Bernabeu.
One thing is for certain, Ceballos has all the hallmarks of the next great Spain orchestrator-in-chief capable of inheriting the blueprint set by Iniesta and Xavi.
Alongside Thiago Alcantara, Koke and Isco, their midfield looks truly sparkling for years to come.