Arsenal Opinion: Exequiel Palacios could be the perfect replacement for Ramsey
According to the Metro, Arsenal have emerged as the new favourites to sign 20-year-old Argentinian international midfielder Exequiel Palacios in the summer after new Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane pulled the plug on the youngster’s proposed move to the Bernabeu.
Madrid have been the frontrunners in the race to sign the highly-rated midfielder for quite a long time and the Los Blancos almost snapped him up for £20million last summer, only for the move to collapse due to an injury issue. (h/t Metro)
Metro, however, understands that Madrid have withdrawn their interest in the 20-year-old and Arsenal are now looking at him as a like-for-like replacement for Aaron Ramsey, who is set to end his ten-year association with the Gunners this summer.
The same report claims that Palacios has a release clause of £18 million in his contract at River Plate, meaning that he would be well within Arsenal’s budget even if the Gunners fail to secure qualification to the Champions League.
Palacios has earned a spot in Argentina’s 23-man Copa America squad for the tournament scheduled to be held in Brazil this summer, and with so many top European clubs hot on his trail, the youngster might as well be tempted to put an end to his career at River Plate.
A product of the widely revered River Plate youth system, Palacios broke into the first-team as a 16-year-old back in 2015 and has progressed by leaps and bounds to establish himself as one of South America’s brightest emerging prospects.
The youngster, who has already been capped twice by Argentina at the senior international level, has also made a total of 49 appearances for River Plate in all competitions till date.
He wasn’t a regular in the first-team till last season but Palacios has really come of age this term, making 14 appearances so far in the Argentine Primera Division. The 20-year-old has impressed with a goal and 4 assists in the league this season, while also earning rave reviews for his awe-inspiring all-around attributes.
Essentially a central midfielder by trade, Palacios is also versatile enough to play in a more attacking box-to-box role in the middle of the park, owing to his work-rate, flair, vision and creativity.
A technically-gifted midfielder blessed with high levels of stamina, incredible speed of thought and high levels of footballing intelligence for a player of his age, Palacios boasts of a wonderful range of passing and solid game-reading abilities.
He uses his flair and sharpness on the ball to create his own space and has already showcased the presence of mind to create chances with defence-splitting through balls, whilst also possessing the know-how to deal with the transitions in play.
Strong on the tackle and quick across the ground, Palacios is an excellent box-to-box midfielder in the making, very much in the mould of Aaron Ramsey.
To put things into perspective, Palacios has a wonderful profile for a player of his age and Arsenal could have an absolute gem in their hands if they manage to strike a deal for him this summer.
It is a no-brainer that Unai Emery needs to revamp his squad this summer and reinforcements in central midfield and at centre-back are likely to be high on the Spaniard’s recruitment list for the summer, although the Gunners are expected to work with a tight budget.
Palacios won’t cost Arsenal a fortune but he could prove to be a tailor-made replacement for Ramsey in the long run and his attributes should perfectly suit Emery’s philosophy.
Arsenal brought in the likes of Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira last summer but Ramsey’s departure is certainly going to be a big blow to the club in terms of work-rate and creativity. And Palacios has both in abundance, meaning that Arsenal have every reason to look at him as a viable option.
While signing Palacios would be an excellent long-term investment, the Gunners can also afford to look at him as someone who could make an immediate impact in the first-team.
He is already a full international for Argentina and has considerable experience of playing for River Plate on the club front, so it should be a no-brainer for Arsenal to go all out in their pursuit of the Argentinian prodigy.
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Arsenal face Chelsea in the Europa League finals at Baku later in the month and a victory would not only see the Gunners cap off a promising season with silverware but also ensure Champions League football next term.