Dani Olmo Staying At RB Leipzig Helps Spain And Cements His Legacy

January 10, 2023

Spain and RB Leipzig attacking midfielder Dani Olmo has revealed “Barcelona will always be home” in a recent interview with German title BILD, as relayed by Catalan newspaper SPORT, intensifying speculation over his next career switch.

A move to the Catalans—where he spent a large part of his youth development—is set to happen at some point, given his willingness to return to La Liga one day. Lately, he’s also been linked to English club Chelsea, but that isn’t a goer at this juncture, especially with Atlético Madrid forward João Félix—deployed in a similar offensive position—poised to join the Premier League side on loan.

Averaging around a goal every six games, Olmo has been far from prolific scoring-wise for Leipzig but is one of the chief creators within the team. He’s not been active recently, however, playing little club soccer due to Germany’s winter break and an injury not long before the World Cup—where he was one of Spain’s better players in an underwhelming show from the national team.

Regarding plans, Olmo shouldn’t rush any return to his homeland, as one of the reasons the 24-year-old is such a valuable Spanish exponent is the somewhat unconventional career path he has followed so far. It’s beneficial to Spain and a reference point for many up-and-coming players.

From the Spaniards favored for national selection, Olmo is still the only German-based player, with most in Spain and England alongside duo Carlos Soler and Pablo Sarabia, who have trickled into France and Paris Saint-Germain’s setup. He’s also benefited from a distinct grounding in Croatian soccer and Dinamo Zagreb, the club responsible for nurturing Real Madrid star Luka Modric and other top midfielders. Incidentally, Olmo is understood to have Croatian heritage on his mother’s side.

Leipzig’s sporting foundations receive heavy criticism from many German fans due to its Red Bull ownership—disturbing the league’s 50+1 fan ownership structure—starting 13 years ago. It’s influenced the official RB Leipzig name, pumped in new money, and driven it up the soccer pyramid to rival the many organic, traditional sides taken aback by the change. What’s harder to debate is the wealth of talents fostered there. Olmo is one.

Having faces in different countries is a plus for Spain, diversifying its options. Under coach Luis de la Fuente, there is a dire need to build around the more direct, unpredictable players in the ranks, and Olmo—technically gifted and not afraid to shoot from range, unlike most La Liga selections—fits that bill. Staying put in the Bundesliga would not be the worst plan, as it would maintain his legacy as one of Spain’s best exponents ahead of the European Championships in 2024—when the Spaniard will peak.

La Liga president Javier Tebas would be one to welcome a player of Olmo’s quality into the division. And he would make a good signing, assuming Barcelona has the conditions for him to show his best self. That needn’t be a concern for him now, though. He’s building something in Germany, and maybe more Spanish graduates will be open to following his atypical soccer itinerary too.

“I’m not thinking about it right now, just about the next games,” Olmo said of the situation from his team’s base in Abi Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. That’s where the squad is preparing for the Bundesliga’s blockbuster resumption on January 20, when third-placed Leipzig visits table-topping Bayern Munich.

“We have three competitions ahead of us,” he added. “Things happen so quickly in football (soccer), and things can change all the time. We won the DFB-Pokal last season—we want to do everything we can again this season to play for titles again.

“I have my advisor who takes care of it. I only focus on football. I’ve talked to Max Eberl (the club’s sporting director) quite a few times but, so far, not on the subject. Maybe we’ll talk about that again here in the training camp. We’ll see what happens. Everything is possible.”

Olmo’s predicament leaves the Bundesliga side in a difficult position, with his contract running out in 2024. To avoid one of its stars exiting on the cheap, Leipzig would rather have him prised away for good money mid-contract should it lose him. Ideally, the club won’t want to sell the asset for any less than the initial price it paid, in the region of €20 million ($21 million) to Dinamo before add-ons.

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