Having already rejected an offer €16 million from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen, River Plate are now bracing themselves for the departure of centre forward Lucas Alario after the German side sent representatives to Buenos Aires to oversee a medical and complete a deal on Monday.
Alario played 90 minutes for River on Sunday evening as Marcelo Gallardo’s side made a winning start to the Superliga but is understood to be undergoing the necessary medical tests on Monday ahead of a big money move to Leverkusen.
With an impressive 41 goals in 82 matches for River, Alario has become a full Argentina international and looked destined for Europe for at least a year now. However, with Sebastián Driussi already sold to Zenit St Petersburg in this window, River Plate are loath to lose Alario at such a critical point in the calendar.
The Superliga may have only begun but River have a Copa Libertadores quarter final coming up and look set to be without their two main goal scorers from last season.
The news last week that River had immediately rejected a €16 million offer for Alario was a statement of intent from Los Millonarios as president Rodolfo D’Onofrio and manager Marcelo Gallardo both stated that unless the €24 million release clause is met, Alario would not be leaving.
Alario and his agent Pedro Aldave admitted that while happy at River it was a move that interested them, particularly as the 24-year-old turned down a huge offer from China only six months ago.
And Leverkusen’s interest has clearly not been dampened with the news that club officials arrived on Monday and intend to trigger the clause, signing Alario on a five-year deal.
Negotiations are made a little more complicated given that River only have 60% ownership of Alario, the remaining 40% belonging to former club Colón. While Los Millonarios would be able to purchase that percentage for $1.6 million if Alario was still at the club in June 2018, Colón are obviously eager that this big money deal is done before then.
Suggestions that Leverkusen had been in contact with the Santa Fe club in an attempt to pay less than River’s Plate’s release clause have been branded ridiculous by president Rodolfo D’Onofrio.
Regardless, the transfer appears to be edging closer and while it represents a tremendous, and thoroughly deserved, move for Alario it comes as a significant blow to River.
Recent signings Ignacio Scocco and Rafael Santos Borré would be left to shoulder the goal scoring burden with no other player in the squad comparable to Alario and potential transfer targets of his calibre few and far between.