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Real Madrid are close to beating Barcelona in the race to sign Fenerbahce starlet Arda Guler, sources have told ESPN.

Sources have told ESPN the deal is not done yet but that the agreement is close, with the 18-year-old midfielder expressing his preference to play for Madrid.

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Guler has a €17.5 million ($19m) release clause but sources have told ESPN the final transfer fee could be around €20m.

Madrid’s original idea was to bring in Guler for the medium term because he is seen as a bet for the future, but the offer from Barca, as well as the strong interest from AC Milan, Sevilla and other Premier League clubs, forced Madrid to react and move negotiations forward.

Carlo Ancelotti’s plan is for Guler to spend preseason with the first team, but ESPN sources close to the player do not rule out a loan move to another team to secure regular time.

ESPN reported last week that Guler is a big Madrid fan and wishes to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Mesut Ozil.

Barca tried to beat Madrid to Arda’s signature and sent new sporting director Deco to Istanbul, but sources have told ESPN that Madrid decided to improve on Barca’s offer and expect to land the highly rated midfielder.

A source close to the negotiations told ESPN that Madrid have been following Guler since the 2021-22 season, with Madrid’s chief scout Juni Calafat key to securing the deal.

Guler has made 35 appearances for Fenerbahce this season, scoring six goals and providing seven assists.

The young midfielder knows that it will not be easy to make a place for himself in a midfield with the likes of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Camavinga, Tchouameni and Jude Bellingham.

However, Guler, who can also play on the right side of an attack, is convinced that he has the talent to fight for a place at the club.

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Madrid close to beating Barca to teen star Guler – sources