Now that Real Madrid have completed the signings of Martin Odegaard from Stromsgodset and Lucas Silva from Cruzeiro, the club’s next step is sorting out the future of reserve midfielder Asier Illarramendi.
The 24-year-old has found it difficult to crack manager Carlo Ancelotti’s starting eleven and has been heavily linked with a move away from the Spanish capital in recent days. Reports have surface that Athletic Bilbao have tabled a bid of £19 million for the defensive midfielder; while his original club, Real Sociedad, and Arsenal are also rumored to be interested in acquiring the player.
“Illarramendi is a good player,” Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde said on Friday. “There’s always speculation with these things and we all know the names of the player’s on Athletic’s radar, because there are four or five of them.”
“We’ll see if it’s speculation or not.”
While Real Sociedad boss David Moyes expressed his desire to see the Real Madrid player return to Basque Country – albeit in the blue-and-white half.
Illarramendi began his career in La Real’s youth system and was a member of the senior squad from 2010-2013 before transferring to Madrid.
“I know the player and his qualities well,” Moyes said. “When I was at Everton I looked at him. It seems that Real Madrid don’t want to use him and I’d be delighted if he came here, but we need all the information from Madrid so that we can see what might happen.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has not commented on Illarramendi. But after seeing his bids for Lucas Silva rejected and seeing the Brazilain join Real Madrid, he could be tempted to look harder at acquiring Carlo Ancelotti’s second-choice defensive midfielder.
The London club have reportedly shown an interest in taking the player on-loan initially with a permanent deal in the summer. But Madrid favor the offer from Athletic Bilbao for the young Spanish midfielder.
Prior to the signings of Odegaard and most-notably Silva, Illarramendi had expressed to Madrid officials that he would like to remain with the ten-time European champions and continue to fight for his position in Ancelotti’s first team squad. But the 24-year-old will have been rattled by the signing of Silva – the Brasileiro league defensive midfielder of the year – and may be starting to understand that his playing time is likely decrease even more with the arrival of the sought-after Brazilian player.
While a small media storm has engulfed Illarramendi’s potential departure, Ancelotti expressed his happiness with the midfielder’s contributions to this date and deflected questions about the 24-year-old’s future in the Spanish capital.
“There’s nothing new. He’s a Madrid player,” Ancelotti said on Friday (prior to the announcement of Silva’s signing). “He hasn’t played much, but that doesn’t alter confidence in him or the importance he has in the dressing room.”
“At this moment we are not thinking about Illarra leaving. He is an important player. To have a motivated team we need players that although not playing much are professional and ready to play. He is one of those players.”
Illarramendi will likely feature today against Cordoba in what could be his final match for Real Madrid. It’s understood that following the game, Ancelotti and club officials while hold discussions with the midfielder in order to convince him that a move away from the giant Spanish club would be the best thing for his career development.
Although defensive midfielder is well-respected in the Madrid dressing room, it can’t be ignored that Silva was signed from Cruzeiro because Illarramendi has failed to impress Ancelotti enough during his time in the Spanish capital. The player was signed from Real Sociedad in 2013 and was thought to be the perfect apprentice for then-starter Xabi Alonso.
While the 24-year-old Spaniard is ahead of Sami Khedira in the club’s pecking order (the German international will depart from Madrid this summer after the club refused to renew his contract – which runs out in June). Illarramendi will now have to battle it out with Lucas Silva for the back-up position behind first-choice selection, Toni Kroos.
In all likelihood the midfielder will be convinced that guaranteed first-team playing time at Arsenal, Bilbao or La Real would be better for his career development.
Programming note: Cordoba vs. Real Madrid will be shown LIVE this morning starting at 9:55am EST on beIN SPORTS and DishWorld.
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