Spanish giants Real Madrid have confirmed the signing of Real Sociedad's Spain U21 International, Asier Illarramendi. Goal.com believes a fee in the region of €30m traded hands. It is reported the player will complete a medical on Sunday and sign a six-year contract with the Santiago Bernabeu club.
A statement on Madrid's website reads:
"Asier Illarramendi Andonegi (Mutriku, Guipúzcoa, 1990) is playing for Real Madrid. The Real Sociedad midfielder becomes the fourth reinforcement of all white."
Madrid, under new manager Carlo Ancelotti, have re-signed Castilla youngsters Daniel Carvajal and Nacho and spent £23m on Illarramendi's U21 squad team mate Isco (formerly of Malaga).
Illarramendi, a 23 year old central midfielder, was one of the stars for Spain in the nation's triumph in June's European U21 Championships and was also linked to Premier League side Arsenal, according to the Mail Online.
However, an earlier report by Marca hinted at the possibility Madrid would trump any bid from the Gunners by matching the player's release clause at the Anoeta. The only debate, Marca said, was over the structure of payment - Sociedad wanted a lumpsum, while Madrid wanted to spread the fee over three seasons.
It is a moot point now though and Arsene Wenger will be left to wonder what might have been yet again. The Gunners are believed to have a sizeable transfer fund this summer (reportedly £70m) but have yet to make any confirmed signing beyond the free transfer of France U20 International Yaya Sanogo.
The Emirates club have been linked to a number of central midfield options as a long-delayed replacement for Cameroon international Alex Song, who left for Barcelona last summer. Everton's Marouane Fellaini is believed to be high up on that wishlist but Wenger is unwilling to do business at £24m and £100,000 per week, according to the Mail.
Kenya international Victor Wanyama was also an option, after impressing for Celtic in the Champions League (notably against Barcelona) last season. The 22 year old has since moved to Southampton.