River Plate boss Marcelo Gallardo admitted he could not stand in the way of Exequiel Palacios joining Real Madrid if they wanted him.
Bayer Leverkusen are set to sign the midfielder in a €15m deal, according to reports from Argentina – César Luis Merlo of TyC Sports has recently claimed the plater will move to the Bundesliga.
Strong reports last year had linked the Argentine with a move to Madrid earlier this year, with suggestions that a deal had been done last January, but no move came to fruition.
“If Madrid came for him, how could I tell him not to do that,” Gallardo said, as cited by Diario AS.
“He is good enough to join a major club.”
The 21-year-old, who has also been heavily linked with a move to both Ajax and Inter, had been surprisingly rumoured to be joining MLS in recent months.
“Palacios will not be joining Miami, he has taken the decision that he wants to go to Europe,” agent Renato Corsi explained to. Marca Claro in October.
The highly-rated midfielder was said to be on the verge of signing a five-and-a-half year deal with Madrid last January, with his proposed contract containing a reported €15m release clause.
Palacios made his debut for River as a 16-year-old and won two international caps for Argentina last year, attracting interest also from 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 Argentine missed two months of football earlier this year with a knee injury and that significantly cooled off interest from clubs, despite making a full recovery.
The central midfielder has made fewer than 100 first-team appearances for River but helped his club to the Copa Libertadores title last year and again participated in their run to this year’s final, when they lost to Flamengo.
A move to the Bernabeu would have represented a continuation of Madrid’s policy of signing young South American players with Brazilian teenagers Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes captured last year.