River Plate wonderkid Exequiel Palacios will complete a €25 million (£22.3m/$28.4m) switch to Real Madrid to be announced after the Copa Libertadores final, Goal understands.
The 20-year-old midfielder has won rave reviews in 2018 for his performances with the Millonario, who have battled through to the decisive stage of South America’s premier club competition.
That form has caught the eye of Madrid, with preliminary talks taking place despite initial River anger when the Spanish giants’ interest went public without the consent of those in charge at the Monumental.
And while silence reigns on both sides of the negotiating table, no official statement will be made until the dust settles on Saturday’s final second leg against arch-rivals Boca Juniors, with the tie poised at 2-2 after the opener.
River had originally intended to sign a new deal with Palacios, a move that would not have swayed his decision to leave in January for Madrid but would have bumped his release clause from €15m to €30m.
Madrid, however, are willing to meet the Argentines in the middle to avoid the signing of an extension, offering €25m for the 75 per cent of Palacios’ playing rights that are in the hands of the Nunez club – agent Renato Corsi, ex-player Marcelo Carracedo and Palacios himself hold the rest of his contract.
Goal understands that after initial overtures from Spain directed at River general manager Enzo Francescoli that initial bad blood has subsided, leaving no obstacle to negotiations. From November 25, the day after the final, River and Madrid will be free to sit down and negotiate a transfer that looks set to be discussed in an atmosphere of tranquility on all sides.
The Champions League holders, who may yet meet Palacios face to face in the Club World Cup should River down their rivals, are naturally not the only team watching the roving midfielder with interest.
Juventus and Inter have both been alerted by the youngster’s exploits over the Atlantic Ocean, although they are likely to be disappointed. Madrid has always been Palacios’ favoured destination, giving the Spaniards an enviable advantage from Sunday onwards when he is officially put in the shop window by his club, resigned to losing his talents in 2019.
And if all goes well, new Madrid coach Santiago Solari will soon be celebrating his first new face since signing a permanent deal to replace Julen Lopetegui in the Santiago Bernabeu hot-seat.
Palacios has appeared 41 times for River since making his debut in 2015, scoring seven goals.
In September he also received his first cap for Argentina, featuring under interim boss Lionel Scaloni in friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia.
The Copa Libertadores final second leg will be streamed live for UK viewers here on Goal, from 8pm GMT.