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Real Madrid have made their mind up on £26.4m Arsenal linked Illarramendi

Asier Illarramendi was linked to Arsenal last summer, signing for Real Madrid instead.

Amid their pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain last summer, Arsenal were also said to be busy enquiring after Asier Illarramendi.

The Real Sociedad prospect had starred alongside Carlos Vela in propelling the unfancied side into fourth in La Liga, with Illarramendi key in their midfield.

Also standing out at the European under-21 championships, the £10 million the Mail quoted the Gunners as being willing to pay, was blown out of the water by Real Madrid, who paid a staggering £26.4 million for his signature.

This season should have been the making of him, with Sami Khedira out injured and Xabi Alonso also missing games, Illarramendi however failed to step up as he would have liked.

The 24-year-old made only 15 La Liga starts, failing to dislodge the superb Luka Modric from the starting line-up.

This had led to speculation Real were ready to cut their losses or send him on loan, as with Khedira back from injury his chances could be even more limited.

But a report in Spanish newspaper Marca states that this is in fact not the case, and the Champions League winners are determined to keep him where he is.

"The Bernabeu hierarchy have explained that a player's first season at Real Madrid is never easy and they are convinced that he'll up his game next campaign... The Real Madrid boss has also expressed his confidence."

Khedira has of course been linked with a move away, which would enhance Illarramendi's chances, and there is a confidence he is too good not to live up to his billing as the 'next Xabi Alonso'.

It's interesting to wonder how his season would have panned out had Arsenal secured the deal. With Aaron Ramsey out injured for a sustained period he would have certainly earned plenty of game time. 

If the Gunners are still looking for a new central midfielder this summer however, it does not look like this is one Madrid player they will be successful in tempting away.

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