The future of Real Betis starlet and reported Real Madrid transfer target Dani Ceballos continues to be a hotly debated topic in the Spanish media, with Marca (h/t Daily Mirror's Aaron Flanagan) reporting the 19-year-old will make a decision on his current contract situation during the international break.
The attacking midfielder is in the final year of his current deal and has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs, including Liverpool and Arsenal. Marca's Carlos Carpio previously claimed Ceballos had already reached an agreement with Los Blancos, per El Rondo's Jamie Kemp:
Ceballos is seen as the latest in a long line of talented Spanish midfielders, playing a starring role in Real Betis' promotion to La Liga last season. This year, he has made three starts in Spain's top division, including Betis' clash with Real Madrid, per WhoScored.com.
He has the versatility to play all over midfield but is at his best as a traditional playmaker in a central role, even if his great dribbling skills could lead to a future out wide. In many ways, he is reminiscent of Marco Asensio, the talented youngster from Mallorca who joined Real in 2014 but has spent most of his career in the capital out on loan.
Los Blancos have made a habit of signing talented youngsters and letting them develop in recent years, with the most notable example being Casemiro. The midfielder was once seen as a bit of a flop but was superb during his loan spell with Porto, and he's now proving himself as a viable member of Rafa Benitez's squad.
Former Real ace Emilio Butragueno showered the Brazilian with praise for his contributions in the 1-1 draw against rivals Atletico Madrid, per AS English:
Casemiro's emergence is something fans may not be used to due to Real's transfer model, which is usually dependent on big-money signings, but it's an effective, sustainable way of developing talent. Asensio, Denis Cheryshev, Lucas Silva and even Mateo Kovacic are similar projects.
If one or two of those players develop into stars capable of contributing, Real's investments will be justified, and Ceballos could be the next in line. As a potential free agent, he would cost the club pennies on the dollar, so there's no reason to oppose the deal.
The key would be Ceballos' next destination, and an extended stay with Betis on loan could be ideal. The teenager won't be expected to be ready to play for Los Blancos for some time, so letting him continue his development by playing regularly would be the way to go.
All of this is contingent on Ceballos choosing to leave Betis in the near future, however, and he could just as easily opt to extend his contract. But if he doesn't, Real should be ready to pounce and make him a strong offer in January.
Porto starlet Ruben Neves finds himself in a similar situation. The youngster has looked mighty impressive to start the 2015-16 season and is attracting attention from Los Blancos, Barcelona and Chelsea, per the London Evening Standard's Simon Johnson.
A product of Porto's academy, Neves was one of Portugal's top performers at the Under-21 European Championship in the summer despite being just 18 years old. His excellent form has carried over into the new season, and his current club holds him in high regard, per PortuGOAL.net's Tom Kundert:
Neves is a more defensive option compared to Ceballos, and he has the look of an elite box-to-box midfielder in the near future. He is experienced for his age and a regular starter in Porto's Champions League campaign.
According to Johnson, there's a £29 million release clause in his contract, and this could present a problem for potential suitors. Porto are notoriously difficult to negotiate with, having built a financial strategy around importing talent from South America and selling those players on for massive profits.
Bleacher Report's Tom Webb shared this image of some of the big-money players Porto have sold over the years, and the amount of talent is incredible:
The likes of Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Hulk were all sold for massive fees, and Neves figures to be the next in line. It's highly doubtful Porto will settle for anything less than the release fee―and it's far more likely he'll be offered a new deal that would increase said clause.
Neves would be another smart investment but a risky one. Letting him develop with Porto for the time being seems like a safer bet.