Hi all, I hope your well?
This doesn’t happen to me a lot – Falling in Love. The malarky that goes with it isn’t much fun. But cupid decided to give me a double dosage AND IT FEELS GREAT!
I’m not going to pretend I’ve seen all of his games, I’ve only seen him from a far – I’ve actually only seen him play a handful of times during the season and he took my fancy but I blamed the beer goggles for that. I do have previous, so I had to be sure, so the U21 European Championship gave me an opportunity to take a more in-depth look at him. I’d like to confirm I really liked what I saw.
Strangely I wrote about him in my last blog and two days later we were linked him. Spooky eh?
To let the cat out of the bag its – Asier Illaramendi. If you don’t know who he is, I will give you a run down on him, plus why I think he’s what we need. He is a 23-year-old Spanish international (He has only represented Spain at U21 Level). Illarra is what I like to call a modern day defensive midfielder. He’s strong, he can tackle, he’s a good reader (awareness) of the game, he has good movement (he’s Spanish, what you expect?), has a great array of passing – He can spray the ball like a sprinkler. He has all the key ingredients (and correct – no square peg, round hole here) needed for the roll. He plies his trade for Real Sociedad, he also came through their youth ranks.
The Spanish media have compared him to Xabi Alonso but I’d have to politely disagree. I can see some similarities but they are both very different players in my opinion. Asier will shield the defence, roaming around the deeper areas breaking up play, but not afraid to stick it to the opposition when needed. When in possession he is very impressive, and doesn’t seem to hold back or slow down attacks, Like many other players in that role can. He will recycle the ball – keep it simple, when needed, but he isn’t afraid to move forward and play between the lines. Because its fresh in my mind, against Italy (U21 European Championship Final) he had the ball in very tight area and the awareness to swashbuckle his way past many of the opposition attacking players – it was magnificent. For me his most attractive attribute was how natural he is; he’s not a player who been converted, it’s second nature. Like Nacho Monreal he’s left back. Not a converted winger. A left back. Illarra covers, tracks runners and to be completely jovial he wears his socks very Sebastien Veron did, very nonchalant (love that).
We have been crying out for a holding midfielder since Gilberto Silva left the team. To bring in a dose of reality to the whole thing, Illarramendi is one of few players likely be available at ‘Arsenal prices’ that could anchor our midfield to level we need. Mikel Arteta has been the stop gap for the team in that role, it’s not natural for him but he’s done very well considering. I personally believe it’s been a blessing in disguise for the Spainard. I wasn’t and I’m still not his biggest fan. I feel he takes our fluidity away and slows us down at times.
So what would the damage be? A report from Spain, from the paper El Confidencial ‘believes’ Illarramendi has a £25.7million release clause – which would surely rule us out? But since then other reports have said he would hold a £10 Million price tag. At that price a must for me. A holding midfielder is key to this team progressing on. I’d also like to add it would be utterly ridiculous if we went into the new season without one. Asier Illarramendi would be a fantastic addition.
When I watched Spain against Uruguay the formation/line-up Spain played sparked something off for me. As I mentioned in my previous blog – ‘The Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla conundrum’ is an issue, but maybe we should take some tips from Spain? Vincte Del Bosque didn’t select Cesc as a false number number, he selected a ‘proper’ number nine in Roberto Soldado. He also didn’t include Xabi Alonso but added a different kind of attacking midfielder – Cesc. More importantly he didn’t play with a double pivot in midfield (4-2-3-1). The Spanish midfield was, Barcelona – Iniesta, Cesc, Xavi, Busquets and Pedro (Probably a major reason to why it was so successful). Spain were very direct and dynamic on the night, which is something they haven’t been so recently. Sergio Busquets played very deep. Pretty much on the laps of the two central. Xavi found his usual space to orchestrate…
Fabregas had an absolute blinder. The stuff he used to create at Arsenal. Fabregas was more direct, which forced Spain to be more direct and move the ball quicker. His link-up play with Soldado was impressive. Cesc and RVP stuff (sorry I mentioned him). There was no clogging in the midfield as we often see at Arsenal and Barcelona with Santi and Jack, also Iniesta and Fabregas.
What I’m saying is maybe we should ditch our double pivot and try and to be more direct. If we signed Illarramendi, he could sit and hold. If we pushed Arteta forward where he could orchestrate in pockets between the opposition. Push Jack behind the centre forward, Santi to the left, where he may have space to feed the number 9? Could Jack be our Cesc? I’d be interested to hear you thoughts. As always…
Cheers for reading,