Illarramendi departing Real Madrid for Liverpool is far from a foregone conclusion

Rafa Benitez may yet count on the Basque midfielder, even though reports suggest Liverpool have made an approach.

The print edition of Spanish sports daily Marca on Sunday morning, there has been the suggestion that Liverpool are pursuing their interest in Real Madrid midfielder, Asier Illarramendi, with a bid of €22 million. That works out at just under £17 million.

The article from the Madrid based publication comes on the back of similarly speculative reports, from various outlets in England. However, the current situation of the Basque midfielder is far from clear cut.

When Illarramendi first arrived from Real Sociedad for €32 million in July 2013, he was regarded as a long-term replacement for midfield general, Xabi Alonso, but the 25-year-old has yet to enjoy as much protagonism as his former colleague.

Although he hasn't made as many starts as he'd perhaps like, Illarramendi has still made a total of 90 appearances in all competitions, during the last two seasons, with 42 of those outings being in the starting eleven.

Whilst there may or may not be firm interest by Liverpool, the future of Illarramendi at Real Madrid depends on new boss Rafa Benitez, who is expected to deploy a 4-2-3-1 system, utilising a more defined defensive midfield role than his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti, who favoured a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 formation.

Illarramendi has also frequently reiterated that his desire is to stay at Real Madrid, and with Benitez as his manager that wish would seem more likely to be realised, along with a more important role in the team.

Meanwhile, his former Real Sociedad manager, Philippe Montanier, remains convinced his former pupil will make the grade at Real Madrid. Just one day prior to the transfer story from Marca, they also published an interview with the French coach.

Underlining his belief that Illarramendi will be a success at the Bernabeu, Montanier insisted: "He's a player who makes the players around him better. Maybe his time will come soon for Real Madrid."

Current indications are that Benitez shares that view, given Illarramendi is the best defensive midfield option currently in the squad, with Kroos and Modric a little less defensive oriented, whilst Isco and James are far more attacking options.

Benitez ultimately holds the key to any decision, if indeed Liverpool have made a firm bid. Therefore as yet, it's certainly no foregone conclusion that Illarramendi will be heading to Anfield or anywhere else, this summer.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch