The 23-year-old helped guide Real Sociedad into next season's Champions League and formed an integral part of Spain’s recently triumphant under-21 European Championship-winning team. He has now become the third player from that successful squad to move to the Bernabeu.
Illarramendi’s capture takes Real’s close season expenditure to a staggering €70 million on three players who only have one senior Spanish cap between them.
However, purchasing the best young talent available comes at a price, and president Florentino Perez will have enviously peered over at Barcelona’s footballing model in an attempt to replicate their bitter rival’s success.
By purchasing young, proven and importantly native talent, Perez will hope that together with Carlo Ancelotti they can create a Real Madrid dynasty—desperately required after the recent Jose Mourinho years, which left the club with a slightly tarnished reputation.
In addition to Illarramendi, whose acquisition could unshackle Luka Modric into a more suitable free-roaming central position, Real have also purchased his La Roja teammates in defender Daniel Carvajal and forward Isco.
Isco was presented to the Spanish media during the first week of July, sporting the naughtiest suit jacket presumably in an attempt to keep up appearances with his predecessor—Real’s former No. 23 David Beckham. Upon his unveiling at the Bernabeu, Isco stated:
First and foremost I want to thank the president for fighting so hard to bring me here. For a footballer, there's nothing greater than signing for Real Madrid. It's the maximum. I'm joining the world's biggest football club and I hope I will help the team and learn a lot. I'm 21 but I feel I'm prepared to play here. I had other offers from other teams but it was hard to say no to Real Madrid. Pellegrini was keen to take me to Manchester but once I knew Real Madrid were interested I didn't think twice.
The €24 million signing was pivotal to Malaga’s success last season in the Champions League, where they took eventual runners-up Borussia Dortmund right to the wire in their epic quarter-final match. Furthermore, three goals in five games during Spain’s triumphant under-21 European Championships campaign demonstrated the pedigree that Real have invested in.
Real knew the right-back was talented and inserted a buy-back clause to ensure they could re-sign the youngster at a relatively cheap price if he impressed. That he did—being voted the third best right-back in the Bundesliga.
Real's recent changes, accompanied by the expected marquee signings in the near future, demonstrate that the Los Blancos revolution is in full motion.