Dani Ceballos joining Real Madrid, a hard blow for Barcelona

Dani Ceballos has decided to sign for Real Madrid despite having a similar offer from Barcelona, according to Madrid-based outlet 'Marca'. Los Blancos have reportedly offered his current club, Real Betis, a fee of €18million despite his release clause only being €15million at this moment in time.

Although Ceballos has yet to officially sign his six-season contract at the Spanish capital, Marca report that the U-21 international is certain to join Zinedine Zidane's team once he has passed his medical examination early next week.

As per our friends at Biggestfreebets.com, Real Madrid are current favourites to retain their La Liga and Champions League titles next season and their squad will only become stronger with the arrival of Ceballos.

Ceballos' decision can only be understood as a blow for Barcelona as, clearly, newly-arrived manager Ernesto Valverde and the Catalans' board were keen on securing the youngster's services this summer. His vision and ability to create spaces for himself and others in the final third made him an ideal candidate, but it appears the 20-year-old had other ideas.

At the same time, Ceballos' reported refusal to join the Camp Nou giants will please the considerable section of the Blaugrana fan-base who started the #CeballosNO campaign on social media given the unacceptable tweets the Betis playmaker posted as a 16-year-old -- as explained in more detail in Episode 12 of 'The Barcelona Podcast', here:

Don't get me wrong, I am disappointed that Ceballos rejected the opportunity to develop as a player alongside his idol Andres Iniesta and other stars such as Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez. I would be lying if I denied feeling slightly downhearted after hearing that a promising youngster of his calibre preferred to land at the Santiago Bernabeu despite having a lesser chance to get regular minutes as a starter under Zidane.

Having said that, these news are certainly not the end of the road for Barcelona in the current transfer window. While any other quality player Barcelona decides to chase at this point is bound to be far more costly than the €15million Ceballos was available for, looking at what could have been is definitely not going to make any positive difference.

Time to get back to the drawing board, Barca!