Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has described fringe midfielder Dani Ceballos as ‘untouchable’, despite the 26-year-old starting only four times in La Liga so far this season.
Ceballos has struggled to hold down a place ever since he moved to the Bernabeu from Real Betis in 2017 and also spent two years on loan at Arsenal. His contract is up at the end of the season, which raised the possibility of a sale this month to avoid letting him go for nothing in summer.
But Ancelotti appears determined to keep hold of Ceballos, who has actually started both of Real’s last two La Liga wins, for at least the short-term.
“He is an ‘untouchable’ player,” Don Carlo suggested following victory in Bilbao.
“It is true that he has not played much, but at this point in the season we need everyone and hopefully he can participate more in these games that are coming up.”
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Another of Real’s fringe players out of contract at the end of the season is Nacho, now in his 23rd year with the club after first joining the youth ranks back in 2001.
The 33-year-old defender started only his second La Liga game of the season against Athletic Club as Real kept a clean sheet at San Mames to stay within three points of Barcelona at the top of the table. But, afterwards, he appeared to suggest he isn’t satisfied with his role.
“This year is being a difficult year for me, but I show that when I play I do it well,” he said immediately after that game in Bilbao. “I am happy when I play. When not, things are different…”