It’s no secret that Asier Illarramendi was a massive disappointment in Real Madrid. Los Blancos paid €35 million to sign him away from Real Sociedad and he never reached his potential in the Spanish capital. Madrid wanted him to become Xabi Alonso’s successor given that the brilliant defensive midfielder was already aging, but Illarramendi struggled and ended up leaving the club after two seasons.
Now, Illarra has talked to Ibon Zugasti and has explained what went wrong during those two seasons.
“It’s a whole different world, it’s one of the world’s best clubs and it has nothing to do with Real Sociedad. I arrived there and suffered two injuries during the pre-season, and then I struggled a bit when I started to play, I just didn’t do what I could do on a pitch, and that cost me. I was young and I had a different mentality, I lacked self-confidence in key moments, something you learn with experience. That was the key, I lacked self-confidence,” reveals Illarramendi.
Illarra’s career in the club changed dramatically after his big mistake in Dortmund during the return leg of the Champions League Semifinals. The midfielder turned the ball over, which cost Real Madrid a second goal and almost their presence in the Final. Ancelotti took Illarra off right at half-time and Madrid ended up going through, but the midfielder struggled with confidence after that.
Illarramendi has matured a lot and is now a crucial player for Real Sociedad. In fact, one could say that he’s more ready to play for a big club than he was back in 2013. “Mentally, I’m more ready now, for sure,” he says when asked about it.
He’s now 30 years old and it looks like his chance to become an elite player for a top club has gone by. Still, Illarramendi is a hero for Real Sociedad and will likely be a crucial player for them for many years to come.