Real Madrid: Quintero giving club plenty of reason to make move
The Colombian has scored four in five for River Plate in 2019, and has wowed the football world with not one, but two recent wonder goals.
Juan Fernando Quintero earned rave reviews across the planet for his performances for Colombia at last summer's World Cup in Russia, before adding to his burgeoning reputation with a fantastic display in River Plate's Copa Libertadores final win over Boca Juniors at the Santiago Bernabéu.
That night in December, the 26-year-old attacking midfielder came off the bench on the hour mark, grabbed River by the scruff of the neck, and ensured a 5-3 aggregrate triumph by scoring one - a stunning strike - and setting up Pity Martínez for another.
Quintero's fine form for River last year persuaded the club to make his loan move from FC Porto permanent, exercising a purchase option that cost just 3.2 million euros. That's sure to prove good business for Los Millonarios, who are expected to hold out for around 25 million if they sell him on.
Recent wonder strikes lead to "phenomenon" tag
Real Madrid have sounded Quintero out twice in recent months, but are yet to make their move, despite the player giving them plenty of reason to - not least early this morning, as he conjured up yet another goal that has wowed the football world: receiving the ball back after taking a short corner against Rosario Central, he arrowed in an incredible drive from an almost impossible angle.
It prompted coach Marcelo Gallardo to brand him a "phenomenon", adding: "When Juanfer's in the mood, he's on another level, and takes the rest of the team with him." His 2019 figures speak of a player on fire. He has failed to score just once in his five matches since the turn of the year, and has netted in every game in February, causing global amazement not only with his last goal, but also the one before that.
Quintero aware of interest from hesitant Madrid
Quintero knows that Madrid are keeping close tabs on him. When, in a light-hearted exchange, the Colombian president, Iván Duque, last year asked Florentino Pérez when Los Blancos would next be signing a player from the South American nation, the Bernabéu chief readily admitted the club's admiration for him. And after Julen Lopetegui's summer appointment, there was interest in snapping up a player who had worked with the now ex-Madrid boss at Porto.
However, there were concerns about meeting an asking price of 22 million euros for a footballer who, it was felt, had not kicked on sufficiently for a man of his age. Now, he may cost three million more, but he is certainly backed up by his stats.
Given Quintero's shooting prowess and his ability to operate between the lines, the uncertain futures of players such as Gareth Bale and Isco could see him home firmly into Madrid's sights, although - with Casemiro, Vinicius and Fede Valverde already there and Rodrygo Goes on his way - the club would need to solve the issue of having too many players with non-EU passports.