Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Bayern Munich are among the clubs willing to pay the €8m release clause placed in Nico Melamed’s Espanyol contract.
All four clubs are said to be admirers of the 18-year-old, who has made just one first team appearance in his career up to this point.
Melamed, born and raised in Barcelona but of Argentine origins, joined Espanyol’s youth setup in 2013 and has impressed for the Periquitos’ reserve side over the past couple seasons – scoring nine times in 39 appearances.
His fine form towards the end of last season saw the teenager rewarded with his first-team debut in August 2019, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 3-0 victory at home to FC Luzern in a Europa League qualifying encounter – becoming the first player born in the 21st century to feature for Espanyol’s first team.
Despite his small sample size at a senior level, Sky Sports’ Gianluca Di Marzio says that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Bayern are all ready to pursue a deal for Melamed in the coming months, with the 18-year-old’s €8m release clause said not to be an issue.
Melamed’s contract at Espanyol runs until 2023, although the club may be wanting to offer him a new deal with a higher release clause to ward off interest – or at least get a better return for their young star.
While it’s hard to envisage the inexperienced Melamed making an immediate impact at the four supergiant admirers – if a move does materialise – the Spaniard displayed enough talent on his brief first team debut to be a star in the future.
Against Swiss outfit Luzern, Melamed – rocking a unique tucked-in shirt swagger – generally occupied the left flank, occasionally drifting infield to find space in the inside channel. In one-on-one situations, he showed a quick enough burst of acceleration to beat his man on the outside, but it’s his slick technique that made Melamed a major threat on the inside – often creating space for himself with a swift step-over.
While it was a tidy performance in possession, off the ball Melamed showed off his Argentinian roots with great tenacity and a desperate desire to win the ball back. His four yellow cards for the reserve side this season also highlight his aggressive nature out of possession.
Melamed’s versatility allows him to excel in several midfield roles, but by trade he’s an attack-minded central midfielder – a ‘mezzala’ if you will.