The Premier League will also have to contend with Athletic Bilbao and David Moyes’ Real Sociedad to sign the 25-year-old. Los Merengues are willing to let the midfielder leave after they signed Mateo Kovacic from Inter Milan. The Croatia international has pushed the Spaniard further down the pecking order at the Bernabeu, with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric having already been ahead of him.
The Gunners may have joined their Merseyside rivals in the race to sign the former Sociedad player after Francis Coquelin’s shaky start to the season. The 24-year-old was lucky to stay on the pitch after several rash challenges following a yellow card against Crystal Palace, and he was unable to influence their 0-2 defeat to West Ham.
Illarramendi made 30 appearances for Los Blancos in La Liga during the last campaign, but 20 of them came from the substitutes’ bench. However, he is still a high quality player, with memories of his performances for Real Sociedad in the 2012-13 season likely what is bringing this interest in his signature.