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Los Blancos will unveil the Real Sociedad midfielder on Saturday upon the successful completion of a medical, as Carlo Ancelotti reshapes the Madrid engine room

PROFILE
By Andrew Wychrij

Having already sealed the €30 million signing of Isco and brought back former youth prospect Dani Carvajal to Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid have now captured the latest Spain starlet to emerge in La Liga: Asier Illarramendi of Real Sociedad.

A product of la Real's youth system, Illarramendi was born in Mutriku, Gipuzkoa in northern Spain, and has risen through the ranks at the club since his B-team debut in 2008.

His breakthrough coincided with the Basque outfit’s return to La Liga after a three-year absence, making his senior debut in a 4-1 defeat on the final day of the 2009-10 Segunda Division season. Despite that loss, Sociedad had already secured promotion and Illarramendi received his first taste of top flight football against Villarreal in January 2011.

He has gone on to make 51 appearances so far for the club, including 32 last campaign as his side secured a sensational fourth-placed Liga finish, earning a Champions League berth.

Though Illarramendi has yet to receive a call-up to Vicente Del Bosque’s senior Spain squad, he has represented his country across all youth levels and was an instrumental part of the team that secured the Under-21 European Championship crown in Israel this summer.
THE REAL DEAL

ILLARRAMENDI IN LA LIGA 2012-13
APPEARANCES
GOALS
CHANCES CREATED
PASS SUCCESS
YELLOW CARDS
RED CARDS
32
0
31
81%
11
0
ILLARRAMENDI AT EURO U21S
APPEARANCES
GOALS
ASSISTS
YELLOW CARDS
RED CARDS
5
0
0
2
0


Deployed as a defensive midfielder, Illarramendi's skill in breaking up play and feeding his team-mates has established his reputation as one of Spain’s most prodigious young talents. His style of play, particularly his ability to expose the opposition with accurate long balls from deep, has led to comparisons with former Real Sociedad youth product Xabi Alonso.

Madrid are in desperate need of a back-up for Alonso in midfield and, despite his relatively young age, the new arrival has already demonstrated similar qualities and characteristics to the 31-year-old.

Illarramendi does, however, have a tendency to attract the attention of officials. He picked up 11 yellow cards in La Liga last season, and a further two in five matches during the European U21 Championship, with his desire to regain possession quickly for his side often spilling over.

However, Illarramendi’s talent outweighs his recklessness and his talents have been monitored by a host of top European clubs. Los Blancos, however, led the way and have now secured the 23-year-old’s signature, by meeting his €30m release fee plus agreeing to pay tax-based add-ons. 

Madrid sporting director Zinedine Zidane reportedly took personal control of the deal and spoke last week with Illarramendi in order to convince him to join the capital club.

La Real were anxious to keep hold of their starlet but Madrid's spending power has proved too strong. His team-mate Xabi Prieto, speaking to AS about the transfer rumours, said last week: "We’ll respect his decision, but it would be a blow if he left."

Now his switch has been confirmed, the player known as 'Illarra' is tasked with justifying the price tag and forming part of a truly formidable young midfield under Carlo Ancelotti as the new Madrid boss seeks the formula for the fabled Decima triumph next season.

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