Real Madrid are close to a €30m move for Real Sociedad midfielder Asier Illarramendi, according to Spanish newspaper Marca. The publication claims the 23 year old Spaniard, who put in an excellent shift in Spain's triumph at the European U21 Championships in June, is keen on a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Illarramendi has also been linked to Arsenal, according to the Mail Online.
Marca believes Madrid will pay the full value of the player's release clause and all that remains to be decided is the timeframe of the payment. The Spanish capital club wants to spread the amount over three instalments (as agreed with Malaga for Spain U21 International Isco) while the Basques want a full payment up front.
Illarramendi's contract expires in 2018.
The midfielder is very highly rated by his team mates and the club's fans. According to ESPN, they have started a Twitter campaign to persuade him to stay at the Anoeta for another season. The supporters are unlikely to be very pleased by Spain manger Vicente del Bosque's comments though; the former Madrid coach has backed Illarramendi's potential transfer to the capital.
There is one point to consider though. Unconfirmed reports from Spain say the Sociedad players have entered into a pact with each other - nobody will agree to a transfer away from the club, given the excellent 2012/13 season (they finished fourth) and the promise of Champions League football this term.
If the report is true, then Illarramendi will likely have some explaining to do to his team mates. Sociedad captain Xabi Prieto has sought to deal with the situation by indirectly asking his team mates to accept the situation should it come to pass.
"We don't know what Asier's intentions will be, but if Madrid intend to pay his release clause it'll be very difficult to keep him. For the moment, he is a Real Sociedad player. We'll respect his decision. With or without him, the team will still be strong," the midfielder told AS.
Francis Coquelin Joins SC Freiburg on Loan
Meanwhile, back in north London, Arsenal have confirmed the departure of youngster Francis Coquelin, on loan to Bundesliga club SC Freiburg on loan. The 22 year old made only 11 starts in all competitions last season.