Exequiel Palacios to Madrid and 10 South American stars who could move to Europe soon

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The River midfielder is expected to arrive at the Bernabeu in the current window, while there are a host of other talents hoping for big transfers

  1. JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images

    #1 Wilmar Barrios | Boca Juniors

    Midfielder Barrios starred for both Boca and Colombia over the course of 2018, raising his stock immeasurably with his impressive consistency.

    Indeed, the 25-year-old is reaching his peak and could set off a Premier League bidding war, with both Everton and Tottenham linked with a player who has an £18 million ($23m) release clause.

  2. @BocaJrsOficial

    #2 Nahitan Nandez | Boca Juniors

    Nandez has at times been pigeon-holed as a typical bruising Uruguayan hardman in the middle of the pitch. But that definition is tough on a player who also boasts no little ability on the ball, as he proved with a brilliant pass to carve open the River Plate defence in December's Libertadores final.

    Now, as Boca begin rebuilding efforts, the former Penarol man looks set for a move away.

    Italian side Cagliari have made a formal bid of €21m (£18.9m/$24.1m) for Nandez which has been accepted, as they look for a potential replacement for Chelsea target Nicolo Barella.

  3. Denis Doyle

    #3 Juan Quintero | River Plate

    Quintero wrote himself into River folklore with a stunning equaliser to peg Boca back in the Libertadores final.

    It was vindication for a player who has always had the talent to succeed but seemed to have lacked application and work rate at key points in his career.

    Now the playmaker may have a second chance to impress in Europe, and with none other than Manchester City.

    "My agent has had a meeting with them, which makes me very proud,” the Colombia international explained over the weekend.

    River, however, will pull out all the stops to keep their star, including handing him Pity Martinez's No.10 shirt after the previous incumbent moved to Atlanta United.

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    #4 Exequiel Palacios | River Plate

    Without a doubt, one of the revelations of 2018 in South American football. Strong in the pass and a tireless runner, Palacios went from relative obscurity to the Argentine national team in the space of a year.

    River's roving midfielder formed a vital part of the team that lifted the Copa Libertadores over rivals Boca, showing enviable maturity in the club's engine room at the tender age of 20.

    That talent has not gone unnoticed. Palacios has been linked with a move to Real Madrid for months, with the player's agent saying on Tuesday that negotiations were at an "advanced stage".

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    #5 Renzo Saravia | Racing Club

    Another rags to riches story in 2018.

    Attacking full-back Saravia began the year fighting for the right-back spot at Racing; he finished it marking Neymar out of the game in a hard-fought Argentina-Brazil international as the Albiceleste's new first choice out wide.

    Racing are determined not to sell in January, as they lead the Superliga with just 10 games to play. But their chances of retaining Saravia's services past June 2019 look slim.

    One former Racing coach, Diego Simeone, is a confirmed suitor, with Atletico Madrid interested in Saravia's services.

    “It means I am doing things right,” the player himself said of the links, while refusing to confirm his next move.

  6. JAVIER GONZALEZ TOLEDO/AFP/Getty Images

    #6 Matias Zaracho | Racing Club

    A top Superliga prospect, only an unfortunate injury towards the end of 2018 robbed Zaracho of the chance to debut in Lionel Scaloni's young Argentina team.

    While his finishing still leaves something to be desired, the 20-year-old midfielder is, alongside Palacios, one of his nation's top talents, and has barely missed a game for Racing, whether deployed in the middle of the pitch or playing off either flank.

    Like team-mate Saravia, Zaracho has also come under the knowing gaze of Simeone at Atletico. As with his companion, however, no move is likely until June at the very earliest.

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    #7 Everton Soares | Gremio

    With more than 200 professional outings, one Copa Libertadores trophy and a Copa do Brasil gong, Everton certainly has bundles of experience for a 22-year-old still learning the ropes.

    The forward has been at the heart of the Gremio team since he was a teenager, offering a dynamic attacking presence that has helped the Porto Alegre side establish themselves as one of South America's strongest outfits.

    While reported interest from Manchester United at the end of 2018 seems to have petered out, he still has interest across the Atlantic.

    AC Milan, set to shed the disappointing Gonzalo Higuain, are one team linked with his services in January.

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    #8 Riquelme | Vasco

    At just 16, Vasco's promising left-back is already considered one of Brazil's hottest defensive prospects. His given name surely will not hurt his chances, evoking memories of the former Boca and Barcelona legend Juan Roman.

    Riquelme has already signed terms with the NN sports management agency, run by Neymar, and has come under the eye of PSG and Benfica despite his tender age.

  9. Twitter/ParanaClube

    #9 Jhonny Lucas | Parana

    The 18-year-old midfielder was one of the few highlights in an otherwise miserable campaign for Parana, who suffered relegation from Serie A with just four wins in 38 games.

    Lucas played 21 times for his side in the league, scoring twice and generally impressing with his talents in the middle of the pitch. And despite his team's malaise, he showed enough to convince Juventus he could be one to watch.

    The Bianconceri are said to have a verbal agreement with Parana for a sale worth €4m, with the youngster's agent affirming that a formal contract offer is set to arrive in the coming days.

  10. #10 Pedro | Fluminense

    Only 21 years of age but Fluminense's attacking gem has already attracted the attention of Real Madrid, who were said to be close to a deal over the summer before an untimely injury for Pedro ended talks.

    Madrid's interest is logical. Pedro is a strong, direct centre-forward who can already boast a top scorer award in the Carioca State Championship, while he was also named the revelation of the 2018 Serie A thanks to his 10 goals in 19 games prior to his injury.

    If the striker can get back to fighting fitness, a big European move surely will not be far off, while he also holds hopes of breaking into Brazil's Copa America squad after receiving a call-up from Tite in 2018.