Spain have a habit of exporting their stars abroad, where the Premier League competes with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for the best of the rest. However the case of Dani Olmo has been unique in many senses.
The 24-year-old was born in the Catalan town of Terrassa, within sight of Barcelona, and grew up playing in the La Masia academy. At the age of 16 however, Olmo and his father decided to leave for Dinamo Zagreb to further his development. Olmo flourished there and won player of the year in the Croatian league, before moving to RB Leipzig for €29m in 2020.
Aside from a lengthy injury midway through last season, Olmo has been highly impressive for Leipzig, but also for Spain. Becoming a regular under Luis Enrique, he has 27 caps and 5 goals for La Roja. Operating sometimes through the middle and mostly off the left flank, Olmo was outstanding against Italy in the Euros semi-finals in 2021, despite the fact they eventually fell to defeat.
Continuing to play a key role for Luis Enrique, it has led to some speculation as to whether he will remain at Leipzig beyond next summer. Todofichajes say that both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are working to convince him to join them next summer, while TSFP expert Sid Lowe has described him as “very, very open to a move.”
Looking at whether he could return home to Spain next summer, Olmo is likely out of the price range for all but three of La Liga’s clubs; Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
A €65m price tag has been quoted, which would stretch the limits of two of those three. Real Madrid would be most capable of pulling off such an operation, but are probably the side that needs him least. With Vinicius Junior already a world class star, Olmo’s preferred role on the left is already occupied. Unless Los Blancos decided to adjust to a 4-2-3-1 or push Olmo back into a central midfield role, there would be no place for him.
Barcelona perhaps make the most sense for him in terms of fit. Olmo also has the ties to Barcelona from his youth, and the motivation to return to the club and triumph. His preferred role would fit in Xavi’s 4-3-3 like a glove, with various similarities between his Barcelona and Luis Enrique’s Spain.
Equally, Barcelona’s ability to recruit next summer might be heavily limited by their finances. Any deal would likely require a major departure. Memphis Depay is likely to leave the club in the near future, but Ferran Torres, Ousmane Dembele or Raphinha would probably become a victim of any move.
Atletico Madrid might be the most likely to pull a deal off, if they can sell some of their stars for major fees next summer. Based on current form, Olmo would earn a place in the Atleti side with ease. His ability to work with Alvaro Morata would be an advantage and for a team that often struggles to break down low blocks, Olmo’s appreciation of space would be a valuable weapon.
At times, Diego Simeone has struggled to fit some of his attacking talent into the side. Working out a formation that accommodates Antoine Griezmann, Morata and Olmo, while not compromising the defensive side of things might be more of an issue.
None of three possess all of the necessary elements to recruit Olmo. Real Madrid have the money, but not the need. Barcelona are perhaps the best fit, but do not have the money. Which perhaps leaves Atletico Madrid as the most likely to attempt a signing, yet a splashy signing seems off the cards at the time of writing too.