Real Madrid Complete Signing Of Asier Illarramendi
Illarramendi going up against his new club, Real Madrid, during last season (Photo: ibtimes.co.uk)
Real Madrid have this morning officially completed the signing of Asier Illarramendi from Real Sociedad after announcing the deal on their official Twitter page, "We've just signed Asier Illarramendi. Please welcome him using the hashtag #WelcomeIllarramendi." Illarramendi joins Madrid on the back of a hugely impressive season with Real Sociedad which took the Basque club into the 2013-2014 edition of the Champions League courtesy of a fourth placed La Liga finish. In thirty two appearances for Sociedad in last season's La Liga, Illarramendi boasted a pass success rating of 80 percent which is ideal for a player who has been signed as a long term replacement for Xabi Alonso.
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Illarramendi took his fine form to Israel this past summer with the twenty three year old midfielder impressing significantly with Spain's under 21 side in the European under 21 Championships where he boasted a pass success rating of 95 percent in the five matches he partook in.
Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay this morning confirmed at an official club press conference that Real Madrid had agreed to buy Illarramendi out of his contract with Sociedad, which still had until the summer of 2018 to run. Illarramendi has agreed upon a six year contract with Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid side which will see him contracted to Los Blancos until the summer of 2019.
Illarramendi since his breakthrough into the Real Sociedad first team setup under Martín Lasarte back in 2010, has gone onto become a mainstay in Sociedad's starting line-up. Illarramendi in his time at the Anoeta was very much the dictator of possession within the Real Sociedad midfield, entrusted with the task of receiving the ball deep in the midfield and moving it forward with a defence splitting pass leading to the aforementioned comparisons to Real Madrid's veteran midfielder Xabi Alonso.
Illarramendi is very comfortable when in possession of the ball which is an incredibly important attribute to have when positioned at the heart of the midfield and will add strength in depth to a Real Madrid midfield which has been accused of being weak in the more important matches in Europe by some sections of the media. With Xabi Alonso ageing and Sami Khedira rumoured to not be in the plans of Carlo Ancelotti the addition of Illarramendi will certainly give the experienced Italian coach options next season.
Illarramendi was positioned as the holding midfield player just in front of the defensive line within Philippe Montanier's 4-2-3-1 system last season and it worked fantastically well with the safety of having Illarramendi stationed behind them allowing the more creative of Sociedad's players such as Xabi Prieto and Ruben Pardo freedom to play a much more expansive attacking game, which saw Sociedad play some really eye catching football at the back end of last season with particular reference to a 3-3 draw played out with Real Madrid in May which gave Sociedad a real platform to qualify for the Champions League.
Ancelotti adapted to having a wide range of attacking riches at his disposal with Paris Saint Germain last season by utilising what essentially became a 4-2-4 formation and he could well opt to do the same at Real Madrid with the attacking players within the Madrid squad. Matuidi and Verratti was the midfield pairing Ancelotti preferred at PSG last season with the latter being a much more creative holding midfielder whilst Matuidi was very much positioned as a ball winner. A partnership of Alonso and Illarramendi could work together in very much the same way, Illarramendi could utilise his energy to play the same role as Verratti with Alonso saving his energy playing like Matuidi had to do. Conversely this system could well not work as effectively with Illarramendi and Alonso being so similar in terms of their playing styles and physical attributes which may force Ancelotti to use Sami Khedira or Luka Modric in a deeper midfield role.
Illarramendi's move to Real Madrid has been greeted with a sense of disappointment within the Spanish media with the transfer of the country's top talents to Real Madrid coming as less than a surprise, many would have preferred Illarramendi to stay one more season with Sociedad and gain an experience of Champions League football without the pressure placed upon Real Madrid to win the competition after such a long time without winning the trophy, before moving onto a club abroad to further his career and give his playing style a real influence of another footballing culture.
However from the perspective of the player himself the move would have been impossible to turn down and it could well propel Illarramendi into a spot in the Spanish senior side ahead of next summer's World Cup in Brazil should the twenty three year old have a successful season with Madrid playing regular football under Carlo Ancelotti.