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Wolves: Ceballos can be Lopetegui’s own Kante

Wolverhampton Wanderers are reportedly interested in signing Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos in next month’s transfer window and the Spaniard could prove to be Julen Lopetegui’s own version of France and Chelsea star N’Golo Kante.

According to reports from Spain, Lopetegui is keen to add another midfielder in the January window and could turn towards his old side for inspiration, with Ceballos seemingly on his shortlist.

The Spanish midfielder remains a bit-part player under Carlo Ancelotti at the Santiago Bernabeu and looks extremely likely to depart in 2023, as his current contract is set to expire next summer.

This means that, from January 1, Wolves will be free to approach the former Arsenal man on a pre-contract deal, although you would imagine that Lopetegui would push for a deal to be completed next month, as he needs bodies this season as he looks to keep the Old Gold in the Premier League.

It was suggested in the summer that any deal for the midfielder would cost interested sides around €10m (£9m), so Wolves may be forced to pay a similar amount if they want him in the building by January.

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Bruno Lage on the touchline for Wolves.

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The 26-year-old already has experience in the Premier League, having featured 25 times for the Gunners in the top flight in 2020/21, so he could be a worthwhile addition at Molineux next month if Lopetegui can bring him in for a minimal fee.

He certainly caught the eye of Robin van Persie during his spell at the Emirates, with the Dutchman singing his praises in 2019.

He said: “Ceballos was by far the best player on the pitch.

“He was making the game, creating, he wanted the ball constantly. He was just a joy to watch.

“He runs a lot. I think the stats tell you as well that he ran the most of all players, so that tells you that he’s alive, he’s there, he wants to play, he wants to create.”

According to FBref, the second-most similar player to Ceballos when compared to other midfielders across Europe’s top leagues is Kante, which certainly bodes well for Wolves when you consider his influence in the Premier League with both Leicester City and Chelsea in recent seasons.

Although they have both had limited game time in their respective sides this season, the two midfielders have registered remarkably similar stats with regard to shots on target per 90 (0.51 vs 0.52), dribbles attempted (both six) and recoveries (14 vs 17).

WhoScored also suggests that both Ceballos and Kante excel at passing and ball interceptions, which suggests that the Madrid man could play a similar role in Lopetegui’s side in 2023 – something that is sure to be an extremely exciting prospect for all involved with the club, not least the Spanish manager himself.