We've just signed Asier Illarramendi. Please welcome him using the hashtag #WelcomeIllarramendi— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) July 12, 2013
The Press Association (via The Guardian) reports Real agreed to pay the Spanish youth international's buyout clause of €38 million in order to sign him away from Sociedad. Illarramendi said the decision to move was a difficult one.
It hasn't been an easy decision, it has been very difficult for me to decide because Real Sociedad have given me so much.
I was on holiday when we started to hear about the interest from Real Madrid. There were contacts, we mulled it over and came to the conclusion that it was an offer we couldn't refuse. It's a unique opportunity.
The 23-year-old rising star enjoyed a breakout season for Sociedad, where he's been since his youth career. Playing in a defensive role, he showed improved consistency and proved more capable of jump-starting attacks from the middle of the pitch.
He became a target for Los Blancos as the club started to identify potential replacements for veteran midfielder Xabi Alonso. The Spanish star has been the focus of transfer talk with just one season left on his current deal.
Regardless of the decision the club makes with Alonso as the new campaign approaches, it now has his replacement waiting in the wings. Illarramendi can step right into the same role, and there wouldn't be a major drop off—if any—thanks to his La Liga experience.
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Not only did the midfielder impress with Sociedad last season, but he also represented Spain in this year's European U-21 Championship and played a key role in guiding the squad to the title. So it's been a very successful 12 months for the newest Real addition.
By acquiring him now, Los Blancos ensure Illarramendi's best seasons should come in a Madrid jersey. He's clearly started to reach peak form and should only benefit from playing alongside a more talented supporting cast at the Bernabeu.
He becomes the fourth signing of the summer window for Real, according to the Press Association report. He joins Daniel Carvajal, Isco and Casemiro as the club bolsters its squad in preparation for another run at the league title.
Illarramendi should find a way to make a major impact on that quest.