Blackburn star Bern Brereton Diaz has snubbed Premier League interest and agreed a pre-contract deal with Villarreal to sign in the summer.
It means the 23-year-old will move to LaLiga on a free transfer when his contract expires at Ewood Park on June 30 this year.
That is a hefty blow for Rovers, who have been motoring along well in recent years in the Championship and had high hopes of reaching the Premier League.
But, according to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, Villarreal have won the race for Brereton Diaz’s signature ahead of a whole host of clubs, including some in the English top flight.
A number of Premier League teams had been linked with the Chile international over the past year or so, including West Ham, Everton and Leeds.
However, the former Nottingham Forest star will now make the move abroad to continue his brilliant, but unusual, career to date.
Former England Under-20 international Brereton Diaz declared his international allegiance to Chile, qualifying through his mother, and has become a national icon in a short space of time.
Despite growing up in Staffordshire, the striker has gone on to make 17 caps for the South American nation after making his international debut in 2021 and has scored four goals.
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That included a strike against Bolivia on his first start for Chile at the 2021 Copa America, which sparked wild celebrations among the players and fans.
After becoming a cult hit with the Chilean supporters, Brereton Diaz has since revealed that he has been taking Spanish lessons three times a week and has been reciting the Chilean national anthem.
And it appears that his move to Spain could help him further at international level as he looks to envelop himself in their culture – though he was not named in the last international squad.
Losing Brereton Diaz will be a major blow to Blackburn, though, who sit fourth in the Championship while the forward has scored ten times this season in all competitions, setting up four assists as well.
Blackburn manager Jon Dahl Tomasson refused to comment on the speculation.
“I can’t say if anything is official yet, maybe later on other people can say that,” Tomasson said.
“I don’t think it’s official, I haven’t heard it yet from Villarreal.
“If it should be Villarreal then they’re a great club.
“I’m not the coach for Villarreal, I’m the coach of Rovers, so let’s wait and see.
“We all know that he’ll do a good job for Blackburn, do his best.
“I can’t say if anything is official yet, maybe later on other people can say that.
“I have had the question more than 1,000 times and that’s understandable because he’s an important player for us, a great lad to work with.