Asier Illarramendi Kicks Off His Real Madrid Career Against Villarreal

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

More than one month after stepping out of the squad due to an injury, the Spanish midfielder will start his first match as a Real Madrid player against Villarreal (Saturday, 22:00 CET).

Even though the spotlight will be on Gareth Bale's likely debut against Villarreal, another player will begin his career at Real Madrid this Saturday. Real Madrid decided to pay close to 32M€ to sign him away from Real Sociedad, and Asier Illarramendi is finally ready to make his debut after recovering from his injury.

Illarra, as the fans call him -he even sports that name on the shirt-, has Ancelotti's full trust. It was Ancelotti the man who wanted to sign Illarramendi at all costs, according to reports. The Italian coach has always built some nice midfielders and it seems that Casemiro, Modric and also Illarramendi will have the chance to grow under the man who transformed Andrea Pirlo into the great midfielder he is.

It will not be an easy game for Illarramendi and his teammates. Villarreal have started the season great and it would be normal for Illarra to take some time to adapt to his new teammates and the new style of play Ancelotti is trying to develop.

It will also be interesting to see his role with Luka Modric and Isco on the pitch. Illarra could play as a defensive, more positional midfielder, but he could also try to steal the ball in good position if deployed in a Sami Khedira-esque kind of role. Modric has been playing so well as Real Madrid's deep midfielder that it seems hard to take him out of that position now. Illarramendi is a really good box-to-box midfielder but it would make sense to turn him into the perfect Xabi Alonso replacement.

If Real Madrid is lacking some presence deep, he could also pair up with Modric there and let Isco play in the #10 role, but that would be an emergency option that should be used if Villarreal are enjoying more chances than expected.

One way or another, Carlo Ancelotti has recovered a really valuable asset, and even though Illarramendi might need some time to adapt, he will be a huge addition to the squad and one of the reasons why the team's midfield has improved so much.

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