As Goal.com reported, Real Madrid have finally announced the signing of Real Sociedad's Under-21 starlet Asier Illarramendi for an undisclosed fee which many believe to be in the region of €30 million.
This news concludes what has been weeks of speculation regarding the player's future which commenced following Spain Under-21's hugely successful European Championship defence.
The signing was by no means unexpected, what is surprising is the transfer fee which the capital club will have to pay: €30 million. A hefty fee indeed, especially when you put into perspective the achievements of a vastly inexperienced player, who to this day, has not received a national call-up.
However, this transfer is a signal of intent from Carlo Ancelotti. And with the signings fellow U-21 teammates Dani Carvajal (as per Real Madrid's official website) and Isco (as per Goal.com) having been completed earlier, it does show a slight deviation from Madrid's ruthless "Galactico" transfer policy. It is by all means a positive change—a plan for the future.
Born in Mutriku, and brought up as part of La Real's youth system, an academy which also produced Xabi Alonso, Illarramendi has slowly and steadily established himself as the backbone of the club's midfield.
Since his debut against Villarreal back in 2011, incidentally coinciding with the Basque outfit's return to Primera Division, the 23-year-old has gone on to make 51 appearances in all competitions and played a pivotal role in helping the club finish fourth in La Liga, en route to securing Champions League football.
Plying his trade as a defensive midfielder, Illarramendi specialises in breaking up opposing attacks and has shown real quality as a competent passer, proving his ability in lobbing the ball over defences. He is also a threat from the back in terms of assisting in setting up the attack.
This has subsequently drawn numerous comparisons with Real Madrid's very own defensive midfielder in Xabi Alonso, who is keen to have Illarramendi serve as his understudy, and sees the young gun as his ideal replacement (as per Goal).
However, despite his countless attacking and defensive abilities, he has shown that he lacks the discipline. In 32 La Liga appearances last season, Illarramendi picked up 11 yellow cards, and throughout the five matches he played in the European Championships, he managed to pick up two yellows.
It will definitely be a job of Ancelotti’s to instill discipline and help curb the player’s aggressive tendencies. Nevertheless, his capabilities do seem to overshadow his much maligned personality.
Illarramendi’s signing comes at a crucial time for the Bernabeu. With Real Madrid conceding the La Liga title to rivals Barcelona last season, and with the club in search of La Decima, Illarra will be able to provide youth and flair to an otherwise dull dressing room, who are still recovering following a disastrous season.
With Khedira having drooped in form towards the end of last season, Ancelotti will see the 23-year-old as a tactical alternative, a player he can fall back upon, and will definitely provide additional competition to an already star-studded midfield boasting players the likes of Modric, Isco, Ozil, Alonso, Kaka etc.
And although it is not expected that Illarramendi will have much of an influence in the premature stages of his development at the club, he may well prove to be an important signing for the future.
It is an evident break away from Madrid’s previous policies. He has all the qualities, all the attributes to succeed at the club, and with Alonso reaching the twilight of his career, Illarramendi’s transfer could not have come at a better time. An ideal replacement, Asier Illarramendi is the next Xabi Alonso, the future of Real Madrid.
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