Real Sociedad’s brilliant Spanish star set for Gunners transfer.
Arsenal have identified Real Sociedad star Asier Illarramendi as the man to anchor their midfield, according to the Daily Mail.
The 23 year-old Spaniard was instrumental in his team’s impressive push to the UEFA Champions League, finishing – like Arsenal – in fourth place, a point ahead of the next closest team, Valencia.
As a defensive midfielder, Illarramendi offered brilliant protection to his team’s defence throughout the season, shuttling around the pitch to close players down and win possession.
Often compared to Xabi Alonso, that is perhaps down to the players’ career trajectory rather than playing style, as though comfortable spreading long passes to the flanks, Illarramendi is more destroyer than playmaker.
He made an impressive 3.8 tackles per match – the eighth most in La Liga – and his great positioning is clearly illustrated by his average of 2.3 interceptions per game domestically in the last campaign.
With Arsenal lacking in the orthodox enforcer department – as well as Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey have performed at the base of midfield, they are more deep lying playmakers than strictly defensive players.
However, Illarramendi makes more passes than anyone else in the Real Sociedad squad, and could be a brilliant asset for the Gunners, who are expected to reinforce heavily this summer thanks to an increased budget.
23 year-old defensive midfielder Illarramendi could be the first piece of the puzzle, but the Gunners will hope that Real Sociedad don’t hold out for the reported €30m release clause.