Real Betis sports vice-chairman Lorenzo Serra Ferrer has confirmed that Barcelona have made an enquiry about the availability of Spanish sensation Dani Ceballos. Real Madrid were in advanced talks to complete the signing last week but Los Blancos are facing competition from their Catalan arch-enemies.
The 20-year-old midfielder has attracted the attention of the two La Liga giants after proving to be the biggest revelation of the recent Under 21 European Championship. Ceballos was named Player of the Tournament despite being unable to make a telling contribution in Spain's 1-0 defeat to Germany in the final.
AS had reported days before the final that Real Madrid had stepped up negotiations to complete his signing once the tournament ends.
The Spanish publication claimed that Ceballos was likely to make the move to the Bernabeu with Real Madrid being ready to pay a touch more than his €15m (£13.2m, $17m) release clause – keeping him on loan at the Andalusian side for the 2017-2018 season in order to continue his development.
Ceballos himself admitted that he was "flattered" by those links but before the final new reports claimed that Barcelona were preparing a last-ditch attempt to hijack the plans by offering Ceballos an instant role in the first-team squad.
Ferrer confirmed on Monday (3 July) that the Catalans did ask him about Ceballos during the negotiations between the two clubs over the transfer of Cristian Tello from Barcelona to Betis.
The Betis chief spoke after Barcelona confirmed at the weekend the transfer of Tello to Betis in a deal worth €4m plus further €1m on add-ons.
"I have dedicated my time to convincing and approaching Tello. With Dani [Ceballos] I was asked for an opinion [by Barcelona] and I gave it, as you can imagine," Ferrer said in the press conference.
The sports vice-chairman stated that Betis want to keep Ceballos at the Benito Villamarin stadium but admitted that the midfielder may have different plans.
"It is precisely because of [Ceballos' Under-21 success] that we must congratulate him, we are proud of the representation that we have had. He is loved and valued, hopefully he continues here, not just one season more, but many more,"
"That is our wish and I express it as vice-president, but there is another person, Dani, who thinks that if he goes to a big club he can also feel more fulfilled. We do not agree 100% with that and we would like him to continue."
Ferrer suggested that Ceballos will make final decision on his future in the coming days but added that they are yet to meet with Real Madrid officials over his potential transfer to the Champions League winners.
"It was very friendly, very correct. He understood that sometimes defeat [in the Under 21 championships], when felt in the dignified manner that it was, helps us to grow a little although we'd prefer it the other way around," the Betis chief added.
"We talked about things, not so much the depth of this team or any other. It was a kind and respectful conversation. We have to wait until tomorrow or the day after for the coach to talk to him, and see if he gives him his support, and to see that the project is based not only on him but on football players like Tello, and I am convinced that this can influence him."