Real Madrid CF have confirmed the arrival of Real Sociedad de Fútbol midfielder Asier Illarramendi after the Merengues agreed to pay a total fee in the region of €38m for the 23-year-old.
Illarramendi – whose buyout clause amounted to €32m – has signed a six-year deal at the Santiago Bernabéu and leaves Real Sociedad in the wake of a highly successful season on both domestic and international fronts. The Basque native helped La Real to a UEFA Champions League play-off berth via a fourth-place finish in the Liga. He then played an integral role in Spain's successful defence of their UEFA European Under-21 Championship title in Israel.
"This wasn't an easy decision," he said of the move from San Sebastian. "Everything I have become is thanks to La Real. However, this is a unique opportunity and I couldn't turn it down. I was on holiday when news of Madrid's interest emerged. There was an offer, I thought about it, and in the end we felt that it was irresistible. It has cost me a lot coming to this decision but it is the right one. I wish my team-mates and the new coaching staff at Real Sociedad all the best – they will achieve great things."
Often likened in terms of playing style to another of the Txuri-urdin's academy products, current Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso, 'Illarra' – a 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup finalist – joins fellow summer recruits Isco and Daniel Carvajal in the Spanish capital. He made 54 league appearances for Real Sociedad. Illarramendi's new team, now under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti, begin their 2013/14 UEFA Champions League challenge from the group stage, seeking to win what would be a tenth European Cup.
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