Arsenal are preparing a move for River Plate midfielder Exequiel Palacios after his proposed transfer to Real Madrid collapsed, according to reports in Argentina.
The 20-year-old is one of South America’s most highly rated young players and was included in Argentina’s final 23-man squad this summer’s Copa America in Brazil.
He is expected to leave River after almost four years in the first team, having made his debut as a 16-year-old, and has been tracked by a host of clubs across Europe.
Real Madrid had been the frontrunner, and nearly signed Palacios for £20m last summer before he picked up an injury, but the return of Zinedine Zidane as manager saw the Frenchman pull the plug on a fresh deal.
Now Argentinian radio station Radio Continental report that Arsenal have emerged as the new favourites to land the midfielder and are considering an offer of their own.
Although Real agreed a £20m fee last summer, Palacios is believed to have a release clause of around $23m (£18m) and would be well within Arsenal’s transfer budget even if they do not qualify for the Champions League.
Palacios’ agent, Renato Corsi, also confirmed to Radio Continental that the midfielder ‘is leaving in June’ and has ‘clubs in England and Germany asking about him’.
The youngster has gained notoriety back in Argentina for his behaviour off the pitch, though is regarded as an excellent talent and helped River win the Copa Libertadores last year.
He has been capped twice by Argentina but that tally will likely increase after making the 2019 Copa America squad and he perfectly suits the creative, box-to-box midfielder mould Unai Emery wants to replace Aaron Ramsey.
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