River Plate midfielder Exequiel Palacios has appeared to rule out a move to Real Madrid despite heavy media links: “My head is always with River.”
The highly-rated midfielder was said to be on the verge of signing a five-and-a-half year deal with Los Blancos, with his contract containing a €20m release clause.
“My head is always with River,” Palacios told an interview with ESPN.
“It's difficult not to get carried away with everything that is said on social media, about Real Madrid and that I may leave. I try to keep calm. I think I'm on the right track.
“My friends at River tell me to stay here, and my family respect my decision. They are always with me and my head is now with River.
“You start to think about it and hear talk about the huge club that is Real Madrid and that there is a chance I could go there.”
Palacios made his debut for River as a 16-year-old and has recently won two international caps for Argentina, attracting interest from both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have also been linked with the midfielder which is said to have speeded up Madrid’s pursuit of the deal.
The central midfielder has made just 51 first-team appearances for River although 24 of those have arrived this year, including helping his club to the Copa Libertadores title.
Such a move would have represented a continuation of Madrid’s policy of signing young South American players with Brazilian teenagers Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes captured this year.