Palacios is a 'Real Madrid-style' player says River captain Ponzio as transfer speculation builds

Exequiel Palacios River Plate 2018
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The midfielder's agent confirmed this week that Real had enquired after the Argentina international but said a move would not happen before June

Exequiel Palacios is a “Real Madrid-style player” according to River Plate team-mate Leonardo Ponzio.

The midfielder is a long-time target of Madrid, and this week River’s president Rodolfo D’Onofrio confirmed that the European champions have enquired about bringing the Argentina international to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid had hoped to bring the player in as early as January, but Palacios’s agent Renato Corsi has said it is his client’s preference to remain in Argentina with River until at least the summer.

Corsi also suggested that Real will have to pay significantly more than the €15 million (£13.5m/$17m) release clause in Palacios’s contract in order to land their man.

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But River captain Ponzio, who played alongside Palacios at the Bernabeu as the club won their rearranged Copa Libertadores final second leg against Boca Juniors last Sunday, says his team-mate has the attributes to be a hit at Madrid.

“He has been with us for almost two and a half years,” Ponzio told AS. “He has become a player in River, in Argentine soccer.

“Real Madrid? I believe what ability he has. Of course, you cannot ask him to be the same as Luka Modric. He is 20 years old. He goes to another continent, to another kind of football.

“But conditions have to grow. He is very of the palate of Real Madrid. Technically he is good, he has a good footing, individually he is good. But he must keep his head. He has to be calm because he is going to make the jump at any moment.”

River will begin their brief Club World Cup campaign in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, taking on Al-Ain from the host country for a place in the final on December 22.

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If they are successful it is likely they will face Madrid for the world crown, with Santiago Solari's side facing AFC champions Kashima Antlers on Wednesday.

Palacios’s agent Corsi told AS this week: “After the Club World Cup, then we will start to talk about numbers. It is possible that we will agree a deal now and he will leave in June.

“Then he can start from zero in pre-season, whereas if he goes now it will be with the season already halfway through.”