Palacios: Bayer Leverkusen sign one-time Real Madrid target

After previously being heavily linked with Real Madrid, Exequiel Palacios has secured a move to Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayer Leverkusen complete signing of Palacios from River Plate

Bayer Leverkusen have bolstered their midfield options with the signing of highly rated Argentina international Exequiel Palacios from River Plate.

Palacios, 21, will join on 1 January and has signed a five-and-a-half-year contract with the Bundesliga side.

Capped four times by Argentina, Palacios has been around River's first-team for four years but began to appear more regularly in 2017-18.

A technically gifted midfielder with a keen eye for a pass, Palacios played a crucial role in River's successful Copa Libertadores campaign in 2018.

Palacios previously linked with Real Madrid

His form at the time saw him emerge as a target for Real Madrid, yet those links went cool despite Palacios' agent claiming in January that talks between the two clubs had gone well and were "quite advanced".

Two significant injuries – a fractured leg and hamstring tear – disrupted his progress earlier this year, but he has continued to earn praise for his performances since returning to fitness.

River coach Marcelo Gallardo expressed his frustration at having an "almost sold player" before the year had even finished at the end of November, with Leverkusen expected to sign Palacios for several weeks.

Palacios joins Bayer for reported 15m euros

Monday brought the confirmation that they have their man, with Palacios' release clause at River reportedly securing them a 15-million-euro transfer fee.