Real Madrid’s £34m arrival clears path for Arsenal target

Real Madrid have signed Asier Illarramendi ... leaving the coast clear for Geoffrey Kondogbia.

Arsenal were recently linked with the signature of Real Sociedad midfielder Asier Illarramendi. The Spanish under-21 international had just come off the back of an impressive season at the Anoeta and an excellent campaign at the European under-21 Championships in Israel; where he was part of the team that was crowned champions.

But any interest in Illarramendi from the Gunners quickly faded when Real Madrid decided to make their move for the player dubbed ‘the next Xabi Alonso’ in a deal worth a whopping £34 million.

Doom and gloom once again for Arsenal on the transfer market? Perhaps not.

I recently hypothesised that the deal could be good for Arsenal. With Illarramendi lined up as an eventual replacement for Alonso I suggested that Arsenal could be cheeky and go for the player; considering his contract expired next summer.

But there was always a glaringly more obvious up side to the signing of Illarramendi by Los Merengues; and it involves Sevilla midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia.

As I type the Frenchman is currently playing in the FIFA World Under-20 Championships final alongside Arsenal new boy Yaya Sanogo and he has had an excellent season in Seville.

But his time at the club is appearing to come to an end; and he even spoke of his desire to join one team in particular:

"I'm delighted [over Madrid reports] but my feet are firmly on the ground and I know I need to improve a lot. They're a great team, like others, but I am very happy at Sevilla. We'll see after the World Cup."

But as happy as he is with reports emanating from Madrid the reality is that now Illarramendi has gone to the Bernabeu signing Kondogbia is no longer a priority for the capital club.

In the week Arsenal were strongly linked with an approach for the player and in April Arsene Wenger refused to rule out an approach for the player in his usual cryptic manner:

"I don’t really want to talk about Kondogbia too much because everyone’s after him at the moment. When you ask: ‘Are you also interested?’ what do you expect me to say?"

But right now Arsenal would appear to be in pole position. Previously interested teams such as Manchester City and Chelsea have bought from elsewhere while the reported interest from Inter Milan seemed almost a side-note to Arsenal stories.

The main competitors for his signature were Real Madrid … and they are out of the picture.

Kondogbia could be there for the taking.

image: © eslee82

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