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Why €12 million Asier Illarramendi would be an excellent signing for Arsenal

Asier Illarimendi has been linked with a switch to Arsenal. Here's our analysis.

Reports are continuing that Arsenal are interested in Spain under-21 star Asier Illarramendi, a Spanish defensive midfielder.

He plays for Real Sociedad alongside ex-Gunner Carlos Vela, recently helping them qualify for the Champions League, which will make it harder for them to prise him away.

However Arsenal are in a financial position of strength, so may be able to tempt him away by asking him to take a longer term view. But even this may not be quite so simple - He is highly valued by the club, signing an extended contract until 2018 in December.

If they did manage to seal a transfer, he would be an excellent addition to Arsenal.

Illarramendi is 23-years-old, playing in the recent under-21 championships because he was eligible after helping the side qualify.

He played 32 La Liga games for Sociedad last season, providing one assist along the way.

In those matches he played, he completed 121 tackles - more than Arsenal's highest tackler Mikel Arteta (108), at a superior average per game 3.8 compared to 3.2.

He made 75 interceptions, less than Arteta's total of 97, but still the third highest in the Sociedad team.

Statistics also show he made 1.5 fouls per game, compared to Arsenal, only Arteta made more - illustrating he is capable of breaking up the play in midfield when necessary.

Offensively, Illarramendi made 33 key passes leading to goalscoring opportunities - just one less than Olivier Giroud, which would place him as the sixth most creative Arsenal player, ahead of Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

He attempted more passes than any Real Sociedad player with 1,606 over the course of the season, at Arsenal only fellow Spaniards Arteta and Cazorla were more prolific.

At the recent European under-21 Championships, he was the best player who played more than one match in terms of pass completion rate, keeping the ball 95.1 per cent of the time.

Clearly Illaramendi is a very talented football who would fit into the Arsenal philosophy, being a skillful yet tough defensive midfielder.

At 23 his current level is only likely to improve, and Arsenal do extremely well to add him to their ranks. Whether they can, is another matter entirely.


image: © benbore

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