Real Madrid Reportedly Set to Rival Barcelona for Exequiel Palacios

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IOctober 27, 2018

LANUS, ARGENTINA - SEPTEMBER 28: Exequiel Palacios of River Plate celebrates after scoring the fifth goal of his team during a match between Lanus and River Plate as part of Superliga 2018/19 at Estadio Ciudad de Lanus - Nestor Diaz Perez on September 28, 2018 in Lanus, Argentina. (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)
Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

Real Madrid are reportedly set to rival Barcelona for River Plate's 20-year-old midfielder Exequiel Palacios.

According to Sport, the two La Liga rivals are following the Argentinian, but they could both miss out to Inter Milan, who are "in pole position" to land the midfielder.

River Plate President Rodolfo D'Onofrio told Fox Sports (h/t Sport), he is well aware there is interest in his club's young star.

"I will unplug the phones, I will do anything to make sure Palacios doesn't go. He's very young," he said. "No one has called for Palacios. Yes, we know there are various clubs looking at River and Gremio players. "We guess that Palacios could be one of the players but I hope they don't get too excited."

Barcelona sent scouts to watch Palacios in action for River Plate against Gremio in the first leg of their Copa Libertadores semi-final, per Sport.

Soccer writer Peter Galindo offered his view on his performance:

Peter Galindo @GalindoPW

I’ve watched Exequiel Palacios fairly often over the past few months. I’m always blown away by how seamlessly he recovers possession & bursts forward. #LibertadoresxFOX

Palacios has also attracted interest from Atletico Madrid, according to Jorge Garcia at AS. He has a release clause of just €15 million, although River Plate want him to sign a new deal with an increased clause.

Renato Corsi, the player's agent, offered an update on his contract situation, per Sport.

"Loads of intermediaries have contacted me but nothing is sealed. We sit down with River Plate because they want to raise his release clause to 30 million euros," he said. "We have had just one chat and not decided anything."

Palacios may only be 20, but he's already an important player for River Plate, as noted by writer Felipe Cardenas:

Felipe Cardenas @FelipeCar

Pity Martínez is very good. But his teammate #ExequielPalacios is quietly becoming #RiverPlate’s most influential player. He’s so good on the ball and puts in a lot of work in the midfield for Gallardo. He’s 19.

He's also a full international, having made his Argentina debut against Guatemala in September. EiF Soccer said he's impressed at international level:

EiF @EiFSoccer

One could make the strong argument that there hasn’t been a midfield magician for Argentina since Riquelme. There’s a lot of hope for Exequiel Palacios to pan out well. He showed great signs in his first two appearances with the national team. Keen to follow his development. https://t.co/DqErNTJDon

Real Madrid and Barcelona have both looked to South America to bring in young talent in 2018.

Barcelona signed Yerry Mina from Palmeiras in January and Arthur from Gremio in the summer, while Real Madrid brought in Vinicius Junior in July and have agreed a deal to sign 17-year-old Rodrygo Goes.

River Plate would be wise to agree a new deal quickly with Palacios. Some of Europe's top clubs already appear to be circling and will have no problem meeting his current release clause.