Arsenal and Manchester United may be forced to act as Liverpool are reportedly planning a late January transfer window bid for out-of-favour Real Madrid star Asier Illarramendi.
According to the Daily Express, reports in Spain are claiming that Brendan Rodgers is putting together an offer for the 24-year-old, who is also wanted by the Reds' Premier League rivals at Old Trafford and Emirates Stadium.
Illarramendi has struggled to settle at the Santiago Bernabeu since his €32million move from Real Sociedad in 2013 and has failed to break into Carlo Ancelotti's first team. Summer signing Toni Kroos and former Tottenham Hotspur star Luka Modric have been blocking his path.
The young Spain international is naturally a deep-lying playmaker who specialises in keeping possession, but he is also able to operate higher up the pitch if needs be. Liverpool currently have the likes of Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson able to anchor the midfield.
One would imagine one of those four would have to leave id Illarramendi is to get any game time at Anfield. However, club legend Gerrard is leaving for LA Galaxy at the end of the season and a replacement will need to be found.
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Real Madrid may well be convinced to sell the youngster, whether it be in January or the summer, as they recently announced the purchase of young Brazilian Lucas Silva, who plays in a similar role to Illarramendi. It is more competition for him and Ancelotti appears to prefer other options, so a sale would not be a huge surprise.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United are not the only ones credited with an interest, as Athletic Bilbao have been linked with a potential €25million move for Illarramendi in the transfer window. Spanish newspaper Marca claimed that Madrid were seriously considering an offer.
Madrid Would Welcome Competition
If Athletic really are trying to push through a deal for him, then interest from a club like Liverpool is bad news. The Premier League club's spending power dwarfs that of the Liga side and there would be no contest if a bidding war were to ensue.
As for Real Madrid, if they have resolved to sell him the interest in Liverpool will be a good thing as the price will go up. Florentino Perez will probably want Arsenal and Manchester United involved too.