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The summer transfer window of 2018 did bring us a few surprises. Andriy Lunin, Thibaut Courtois and repurchase of Mariano Diaz, yet Florentino Perez did not sign the cheque for a ‘Galactico’ to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Real Madrid are known for spending more on established and developed players, rather than nurturing them at a young age. But the transfer window purchases in the recent years show otherwise and that has surely proven to be more profitable, both financially and success-wise, for the club.

After failing to start the season in a positive fashion, President Perez is under pressure to sign a ‘Galactico’ in either of the upcoming transfer windows, but keeping in mind to continue the new scheme of acquiring promising talents.

The Real Madrid scouts have identified the 20-year old central-midfielder of Club Athletico River Plate of Argentina, Exequiel Alejandro Palacios, as a talent worthy of playing in the colours of Real Madrid. Let us look into this analysis that gives a brief look into Exequiel Palacios and his style of play.


Exequiel Palacios rose from the youth ranks of River Plate and marked his league debut on 8th November 2015. Apart from being a fantastic player on the pitch, Palacios infamously caught the media’s attention earlier this year, what turned out to be Page One news in South American sports news, branding him as a player ‘on’ and ‘off’ the pitch, rather humorously.

Palacios made his international debut on 8th September under Argentina’s interim manager Lionel Scaloni, against Guatemala in an international friendly match.

The Argentinian started for River Plate’s side against Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores final, what could be called one of the fiercest derbies in South American football. Without a doubt, given the hype of the match and the rumours surrounding him, all Real Madrid fans had their eyes set on the young engine of River Plate wearing number 15 for his side.

Style of Play

Palacios’ style of play is what we term as a ‘box-to-box’ midfielder. Given his pace, it makes it easier for the defence to rely on him during counter-attacks against them, whereas it makes it difficult for his opposition players to keep up with him while they face the counters.

Palacios is not just quick on his feet, but also in his head. It is no secret that South Americans have the gift and ability of the wonderful and perfect ‘first touch’ of the ball. Given his position of play, he often faces high pressure from the opposition but being quick in thought and feet and having a good control of the ball allows him to get out of pressure almost immediately.

Exequil Palacios Real Madrid Recruitment Analysis River Plate
Palacios first looks out for his teammate before receiving the ball and then passes the ball with his first touch
Exequil Palacios Real Madrid Recruitment Analysis River Plate
Palacios asks for the ball as he notices his teammate making the run on the wing. Again, he passes the ball with his first touch thus pressurising his opponents.

Just like facing a counter-attack, Palacios’ passing ability can change the momentum of the game almost immediately. In recent years, central midfielders are often given the role to distribute the play on either side of the pitch. Palacios prefers to pass the ball vertically up on the field, rather than shifting horizontally, perhaps reminding us of the Spanish and Barcelona, Andres Iniesta. Palacios’ ability to think quickly helps him to understand the position of his teammates and accordingly gives the required pace to the ball with precision to reach its destination.

Exequil Palacios Real Madrid Recruitment Analysis River Plate

In the above picture, Palacios has two options(marked in brown and yellow).

Option 1: Yellow

He notices the huge space left unmanned and sees his teammate making a run in that direction. But, he also notices that he is marked by a defender, who is trailing his teammate’s steps.

Option 2: Brown

While deciding whether to choose option 1, Palacios notices another teammate getting ready to make a run horizontally in Palacios’ direction and chooses option 2 over option 1.

This excerpt is just one in many that qualifies Palacios’ understanding of the game and his style of play.


Even though having a versatile set of youngsters in the team gives hope for a bright future, it would be problematic for the future managers to work with such extensive number of youngsters whilst giving them sufficient game-time and making sure that the club’s objectives and goals are achieved. Kroos, Isco, Kovacic, Ceballos, Llorente, Valverde, Odegaard, Enzo Zidane and now, possibly, Palacios is the list adding on to the likes of Castilla players like Franchu, Seoane and Fidalgo.

Palacios could possibly join the recent list of Vinicius and Rodrygo, South American football prodigies, who are equally loved by the Bernabeu crowd.

December 9th, 2018 is the date set for Palacios for his ‘entrance’ test at Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu hosts the second and the final leg of the much-awaited Copa Libertadores Final 2018. It goes without saying that despite the stakes, every single Madridista watching the match at the stadium or around the world will have their eyes set on the red-striped white jersey of River Plate bearing the number 15 and the name – Palacios

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