The Hard Tackle takes a look at Dani Olmo’s ideal destination, as Arsenal, Barcelona and Real Madrid look to snap him up this summer.
The UEFA Euro 2020 was always going to unearth some of the under-the-radar players in Europe this summer, with Federico Chiesa, Mikkel Damsgaard and Granit Xhaka already enjoying a lot of spotlight after starring in the coveted tournament.
Another potential star who could benefit from the competition is Dani Olmo. The RB Leipzig playmaker played a starring role for Spain in Euro 2020, becoming one of Luis Enrique’s best creative weapon, chipping in with three assists in five matches. His contributions were indeed critical in helping La Roja reach the semi-finals.
Olmo was a star performer in the Bundesliga as well, scoring five goals and delivering ten assists for a Leipzig side that finished second in the table. And the Spanish international’s performances have not gone unnoticed either, with various clubs across Europe now hoping to snap him up from Die Roten Bullen this summer.
The summer departure of head coach Julian Nagelsmann to Bayern Munich might just fast-track the process for Leipzig, who have already caused a lot of tension among their creative players by signing Dominik Szoboszlai earlier in the year.
FC Barcelona have been linked with a move for Olmo for a long time now, but it appears their arch-rivals Real Madrid have joined the race this summer. Both of them are expected to face stiff competition from Arsenal as well, as Mikel Arteta hopes to replace Martin Odegaard and, in broader terms, Mesut Ozil.
The Hard Tackle now tries to assess which club would be best suited for Olmo for his further development, in case he does end up leaving RB Leipzig this summer.
FC Barcelona have emerged as one of the busiest clubs in the transfer market following the appointment of Joan Laporta as the new club president. The new chief is looking to get rid of most of the overpaid players and filtering the squad by bringing in talents like Memphis Depay, Emerson Royal and Yusuf Demir, among many others.
One of the club’s main issues is the creative department. They are yet to tie Lionel Messi down to a long-term contract, and while that may not be a problem, a majority of other creative players have severely unperformed.
Philippe Coutinho has already lost his place in the first team, whereas Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati struggled with injuries. Antoine Griezmann faces an uncertain future as well, with the club hoping to sanction the Frenchman’s exit due to his hefty wages.
The potential departure of at least two of these players may clear out some much-needed space in Barcelona’s creative unit, and that is where Dani Olmo comes into the fray.
Ideally, the Spanish playmaker is an ideal replacement for Griezmann. In addition to playing behind the main striker, the 23-year-old can operate on both flanks and even as a false-nine, if required. He has significantly improved his work rate under Nagelsmann, making him an excellent option in the first line of press.
Olmo does need to work on his productivity, but he could be a tailor-made replacement in foresight for Barcelona. His status as a former La Masia graduate is a cherry on top.
Real Madrid’s interest in Dani Olmo is hardly surprising as Carlo Ancelotti is keen on shoring up his creative options despite the return of Martin Odegaard from Arsenal.
The Spanish giants have not had much luck with the marquee signing of Eden Hazard. The returning Gareth Bale and Brahim Diaz might not be of huge help either, while one of their best creative options in Luka Modric is in the final phase of his decorated career.
The likes of Isco and Marco Asensio have had to endure a decline, too, thus accentuating the need for someone like Olmo, who can add that sense of freshness and energy, as well as youthful exuberance.
As mentioned earlier, the RB Leipzig star offers a lot of versatility to the table. It could be hugely beneficial for Ancelotti, as he looks to accommodate youth and experience to his side to help Real Madrid restore their lost glory.
The former La Masia talent should fit in nicely as a number ten, servicing Karim Benzema and playing alongside the likes of Hazard and Vinicius Jr. His smart link-up play, combined with his direct style of football, should complement Ancelotti’s tactical philosophy at the Santiago Bernabeu next season.
From a long-term sporting perspective, Olmo could be a direct replacement for Modric or perhaps even Bale, should he operate out wide. But his versatility, technical prowess and tactical astuteness should add that extra edge in the Real Madrid frontline next season.
Arsenal need no introduction when it comes to the pursuit of Olmo or any other available playmaker in the market. After missing out on European football for the first time in a quarter of a century, the Gunners are bracing themselves for a major overhaul in the summer.
One of the weakest links is the number ten role, with Arsenal often being criticised for lacking creativity under the leadership of Mikel Arteta. Odegaard had an effective short little stint at the Emirates but has returned to Real Madrid, prompting Arteta to scour the market for a potential replacement.
The north London giants have already missed out on their pursuit of Emiliano Buendia earlier in the summer, while Odegaard is proving out to be too expensive. But in Olmo, they may have found an ideal option who is more than capable of sparking life into the Arsenal side.
Unlike Ozil or even Odegaard, the RB Leipzig starlet is capable of operating out wide. His collective tactical astuteness should be a boon for Mikel Arteta, especially when creating chances in the final third.
Indeed, Olmo could be an ideal fit at left-wing, forming Arsenal’s creative trifecta alongside Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, just behind the main striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It might just be the ideal formula to rejuvenate the Gunners for the upcoming 2021/22 Premier League campaign.
Dani Olmo is a talented, versatile player who can fit into any club in the world. He has the technical prowess and the work ethic required to become one of Spain’s best playmakers.
That said, Real Madrid might not be a viable option for the Leipzig star, given his past relationship with FC Barcelona. Even from a sporting perspective, Los Blancos have too many players like him in the final third, so it might prove to be a little difficult to become a fully-fledged starter right from the beginning.
Arsenal can provide the game-time. In fact, Olmo would instantly become the club’s best chance creator. He may even link up well with Saka and Smith Rowe, who spent a year at RB Leipzig on a loan deal. But the lack of European football could be a massive red flag.
That leaves Dani Olmo with his former club Barcelona. Having spent the majority of his youth career at La Masia, a return to Catalonia appears to be the best-suited marriage for the 23-year-old, who can become the face of the new-look Barcelona side as they slowly prepare for life without superstars like Antoine Griezmann and eventually, Lionel Messi.