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 strikes.
River Plate’s 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 the Copa Libertadores final second-leg win over Boca Juniors at the Santiago Bernabéu.
That night in December, the 26-year-old midfielder came off the bench on the hour mark, grabbed his side by the scruff of the neck, and ensured a 5-3 aggregrate triumph by scoring one with a stunning strike and setting up Pity Martínez for another with a sumptuous backheel.
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. The deal was a no-brainer for Los Millonarios: if they sell him on, he will come with a price tag of 25 million.
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 – most recently 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 in River’s league clash with 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 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 the midfielder. And following Julen Lopetegui’s summer appointment by the European champions, there was interest in signing 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 player of his age – he was 25 at the time – who, it was felt, had not kicked on sufficiently. Now, he may cost three million more, but there is little arguing with his stats.
Given his shooting prowess and his ability to operate between the lines, the uncertain futures of Madrid players such as Gareth Bale and Isco could see him home firmly into Los Merengues’ summer sights, although – with Casemiro, Vinicius, Fede Valverde already there and Rodrygo Goes on his way – the club would need to solve the issue of having more than the permitted three players without EU passports.