A closer look at the Arsenal target who looks to be Madrid bound (Video)

Among the key ingredients of the Spain Under-21 World Cup victory was a similarly indispensible cog in Real Sociedad’s surprisingly successful season. His name is as treacherous for non-Spanish tongues to pronounce as his importance in linking defence and attack; Asier Illarramendi. While the limelight was hogged by the prolific Alvaro Morata and the magical Isco, the 23-year-old defensive midfielder helped ensure that Spain conceded only two goals in the entire tournament. But far from being your average hatchet-man, Illarramendi displays an intelligence and awareness on the park that puts him in the rank of Xabi Alonso.

Indeed, there are unconfirmed reports that the youngster is on his way to the Bernabeu to replace the aging Alonso. Some go as far as saying that the only thing remaining is an official announcement. The vociferous rumour mill has made the Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay come out to inform all and sundry that Real Madrid are yet to meet Illarramendi’s €30 million release clause. But with Aperribay complimenting Madrid for ‘behaving very well during negotiations so far’, surely it’s only a matter of time before Illarramendi is paraded beside his U-21 teammate Isco in the all-white strip. In fact word is Kaka’s number has been set aside for the soon-to-be Los Blancos midfielder.