Illarramendi, 24, is being forced out the exit door at the Bernabeu following the €14 million capture of Brazilian counterpart Lucas Silva last month, with Real said to be keen to offload him.
He had been the subject of a €25 million bid from Athletic Bilbao during the winter transfer window, which his current club accepted, but the Spaniard preferred to remain in the capital for the rest of the season before weighing up his options in the summer.
Marca had claimed at the time that Arsenal had approached lllarramendi about a potential summer switch, which he would accept “without thinking about it” given his desire to experience Premier League football, but the Spanish newspaper added that the Gunners remain reluctant to meet Real’s financial demands.
A return to former club Real Sociedad has also been mooted, but El Confidencial have since reported that the Basque outfit will be hard-pressed to match up to the spending power of Liverpool, who are now looking like the front-runners.
Former Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso – Illarramendi’s ex-Real teammate and a past Sociedad favourite himself – is even understood to have recommended a move to Anfield, suggesting that Brendan Rodgers’ side hold all the cards at this point.
Signed from Sociedad in the summer of 2013 for €32.2 million, Illarramendi was a regular starter during his first season at Real, but has now dropped out of Carlo Ancelotti’s plans, despite some tipping him for a first senior national team call-up prior to the World Cup.
At his best in his favoured holding role, his age, pedigree and promise would make him a fine addition to a Liverpool squad set to lose Steven Gerrard, and it looks like a transfer is more than possible provided more English rivals don’t enter the race.