Real Madrid appear to be on the verge of completing a switch for River Plate starlet Exequiel Palacios.
River Plate president Rodolfo D’Onofrio has released a statement confirming Madrid’s interest and adding fuel to a potentially imminent switch.
Madrid’s bitter rivals Barcelona are also believed to be interested and could force a late bidding war for the midfielder.
So just who is Exequiel Palacios? Here’s six things you need to know about the future star.
1. He’s a Box-to-Box Midfielder
It’s usually the attacking players that make the headlines worldwide but the midfield engine is becoming an increasingly important role in the modern game. Palacios began his career as an attacking midfielder but he has found his niche dropping deeper down the field for River Plate.
Offering both offensive and defensive qualities and packaged in bundles of energy have made him one of the promising talents on the South American continent.
2. He’s Been Fast-tracked Into Argentina’s National Side
It wasn’t long before the national pundits began to posit that Palacios could possess exactly the qualities missing from the national side.
For years the Argentine midfield has been split between an abundance of attacking talent that offers next to nothing going back and slow, holding players.
Lionel Scaloni has given Palacios the chance to fill the void of a true box-to-box star for the Albiceleste. The 20-year-old was fast-tracked to the first team, making his full debut in a 3-0 friendly against Guatemala in September of 2018.
3. He Made Headlines for His Love Life
It’s not all been smooth sailing for the midfielder though as he’s also made his fair share of headlines for the wrong reasons. Palacios was the talk of the Argentine tabloids when news broke that he had three girlfriends at the same time.
The player’s personal life was aired in public as his three girlfriends found out he was a love cheat, promptly dumping him.
One of the women was popular Argentine Instagram model Sol Perez, who even had the news broken to her live on TV.
4. He’s the Epitome of ‘Despliegue’
Despliegue is a South American word that is hard to translate exactly into English but it’s how the locals refer to their star man. It essentially refers to the player’s apparent ‘ever presence’ in that he covers every blade of grass on the pitch and leaves the opposition no room to breathe.
Going back to his unrivalled levels of energy, Palacios also shows the commitment to make the attribute a huge asset. He closes players quickly and frequently exudes pace to chase the ball from man to man, playing an almost solo pressing game for River Plate to great effect.
5. He Rarely Takes More Than Two Touches
On top of allowing the opposition no time, Palacios also doesn’t like to waste time on the ball himself, rarely taking more than two touches. The midfielder has developed an iconic style for River Plate by recycling play quickly. Utilising his physical strength well to dispossess the opposition, Palacios usually only needs one touch to take the ball away from the opponent before changing direction with his second touch.
The same applies on the offence with Palacios often favouring to shift the ball first time, occasionally taking a touch for control. It also makes him very difficult to close or dispossess, he is the complete midfielder for River Plate.
6. His Vision Makes Him a Constant Threat in the Final Third
Having started his career as an attacking midfielder, Palacios has maintained plenty of those attacking attributes making him more than just a midfield engine. Showing intelligence far beyond his years, Palacios has been praised for his excellent vision, providing probing forward balls for the River Plate front line.
He contributes to his fair share of goals with three goals and four assists from 19 league appearances for River Plate. It benefits River Plate’s attacking style greatly and should easily translate to any side with willing runners ahead of him.