SPAIN: Real welcomes €39m midfielder

Spain

Real Madrid completed the signing of Asier Illarramendi from Real Sociedad on Friday for around a staggering £34million.

The highly rated 23 year-old has signed a six year contract at the Bernabeu and is believed to be the long-term successor for Xabi Alonso in a defensive midfield role.

Illarramendi played a key role in Spain’s Under-21 Euros triumph in Israel earlier this summer and was influential for Real Sociedad last season as they secured a Champions League place by finishing fourth in La Liga.

Anchoring the midfield, Illarramendi is hard in the tackle with an array of passing varying from fifty yard diagonal pings to defence splitting through balls. As with most Spaniards Illarramendi’s first touch and ball control is second to none and for a 23 year-old he is a cool customer.

The defensive midfielder becomes Madrid’s fourth signing of the summer joining fellow Under-21 stars Isco and Dani Carvajal along with the Brazilian midfielder Casemiro as Los Blancos appear to have adopted a new transfer policy. Florentino Perez has opted to look closer to home by investing in some of Spain’s hottest talent veering away from their typical Galactico signings.

Some may say Madrid have invested in the future, however I fully expect all four new signings, in particular Illarramendi and Isco, to feature regularly in the Madrid first team next season following the £70million spending spree.

Illarramendi’s engine and passing qualities complement Isco’s flare and creativity perfectly and the pair formed a formidable relationship in Israel. With the guidance of Ancelotti the pair will soon be dominating the midfield of both Madrid and the national side and look set to be the perfect replacements for Xavi and Iniesta once the Barca midfielders hang up their boots following a glittering career.

However, don’t be getting too excited just yet. It is highly unlikely the pair will line-up alongside each other straight away. Xabi Alonso will more than likely get the nod ahead of Illarramendi unless the former Liverpool man is shifted off the wage bill and Isco will be competing with the likes of Modric and Ozil. Therefore I fully expect to see the youngsters used as part of a squad rotation system, making a large number of appearances from the substitute’s bench.

Nobody quite knows how Ancelotti will deploy his new signings, but one thing is for sure, Madrid have great foundations for the future. A future we could see sooner rather than later.

Callum Dunn

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