Sami Khedira has often been the name mentioned on the lips of Arsenal supporters who have been willing the club to invest in a deeper-lying or defensive midfielder.
Though there was clear interest in the summer and for whatever reason the deal was not able to be pushed through, there is an alternative option to the German World Cup winner who would suit Arsenal just as much, if not more so.
Asier Illarramendi is somewhat the forgotten man of Real Madrid and Spanish football in general. The 24-year-old made his mark in La Liga with an exceptional season in the 2012/13 campaign with Real Sociedad.
His discipline and quality on the ball in deeper areas guided the Basque side to Champions League qualification. That summer he then played a crucial role in the Spanish Uner-21 side which went on to win the European Championship.
Partnering Thiago Alcantara in the midfield, Illarramendi's willingness to receive the ball off the centre-backs and his self-restraint from venturing forward allowed Thiago to have the freedom he required to make things happen for the team.
The Under-21 side included some star names such as David de Gea, Marc Bartra, Koke, Rodrigo, Alvaro Morata and also Isco. But IIlarramendi's role was imperative in how they built their attacks.
After the tournament he and Isco were subject to transfers to Real Madrid for large fees. Since then however, both have not received the game time they would have liked and have been restricted in their development.
29 league appearances for Illarra at Madrid last season, of which 14 were as a substitute. It is not an awful drought of playing time but it is difficult to have the impact you would like in that situation. Also, for a player who is 24 and therefore not a baby so to speak in football terms, he has no reason to be eased in.
With his quality and potential to be one of the most effective midfielders in Europe, he should be looking for more minutes and to be taking a leading role in a top side. That is where a move to Arsenal could be perfect.
Lack of presence
It's long been stated that Arsenal lack a destructive nature to their midfield to compliment the beautiful side of their game. Mikel Arteta has been Arsenal's most defensive midfielder for a few seasons now and has coped admirably. But it is clear to see he is not a natural at that role and more importantly he is ageing and making mistakes more regularly.
Arsenal are reluctant to add a genuine outright defensive midfielder because they do not want it to disrupt their rhythm, as I feel Mathieu Flamini, with his limited range of passing does on occasions.
But Illarramendi provides the discipline and tackling quality but also the passing range and confidence with the ball to link the play from defence to attack. He would allow the other midfielder in the double-pivot alongside him, such as Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsey to be box-to-box and play-make with Mesut Özil while he holds.
It would be far too early to compare him to Xabi Alonso, but he is the closest player i have seen to him in a while and he requires the platform to attempt to find that level. Still uncapped for the Spanish first team, it is a waste of clear talent at the minute and a move to Arsenal could really be the second coming of the man.
Price tag could be an issue as he moved for in excess of €30m, but under Arsene Wenger's guidance it could be a worthwhile investment as he could be the key to future success.
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