Note from Managing Madrid: It's not necessary to agree with the content of a FanPost in order to get it promoted. While the staff feels confident about Illarramendi's future in the club, this FanPost is a fine piece of work and well-thought and written. If you disagree with Trizzo91, please do it respectfully!
On the 12th of July 2013, Real Sociedad midfielder Asier Illarramendi departed San Sebastián to join Los Blancos for a reported fee of €32.2 million - the largest amount Real have ever spent on a Spanish player.
His purchase was designed to fill the void which will be inevitably left by the retirement of the now 32 year old Xabi Alonso - to whom Illaramendi is often considered to be a natural successor - though ten months into his six year contract he is still yet to produce the sort of form necessary to justify his colossal transfer fee.
Over the course of his inaugural season in the capital -which has seen him capped 27 times - Illaramendi has rarely impressed, failing to inspire in either offensive or rearguard duties. His range of passing has been surprisingly poor for someone attempting to emulate Alonso's brilliance, whilst his close control and tackling abilities - which are inferior to those of Casemiro - have also left much to be desired. More worryingly, the 24 year old has only managed a single assist all campaign, which might be acceptable were he providing a notable contribution in other areas of the pitch.
Whilst it would be easy to criticize Illaramendi for his mistake at the Westfalenstadion which nearly prompted Dortmund to make an unlikely comeback in their last eight encounter with Real in the Champions League, it his general performances which are providing the most cause for concern. He is often sluggish and negative on the ball, commonly opting for simple, yet redundant passes - many of them towards his own goal - which fail to commit opposing players or assist in the offensive build up. Moreover, his lack of physicality - in terms of pace and strength - hinders him defensively, where he can often prove to be somewhat of a liability. He is not a player who induces confidence, and with Alonso out of the Champion's League final, it is possible that Real will suffer against a team with the work ethic of Athletico if they chose to field Illaramendi ahead of the back four.
Whilst it might be unfair to expect a man of Illarramendi's age to perform at Alonso's level, on current form he is not offering enough to validate either the enormity of his fee, or his regular appearances in Real's starting XI. For a club with the standards of Real Madrid, where players and coaching staff are afforded notoriously little leeway, Illaramendi has often seemed out of his depth, particularly when he compared to some of his less costly counterparts. It may well be the case that, given time, he might transform into the midfield gem the Madrid public want him to be, but on present viewing, he is looking ever more like yet another expensive failure.