Real Madrid rival Arsenal for Carvalho, which could unlock Liverpool move for Illarramendi

Real Madrid Bernabeu

Rafa Benitez reportedly wants to replaces Asier Illarramendi with William Carvalho.

Liverpool have potentially been handed a boost in their quest to sign Asier Illarramendi from Real Madrid, following a report from Spanish radio network Cadena COPE, indicating that Rafa Benitez wants to sign Portuguese star William Carvalho as a direct replacement.

The Portuguese midfielder fits the profile Benitez has requested at the Santiago Bernabeu, which will clearly be a blow to the intentions of Arsenal, who have remained keen on the midfielder.

The Gunners were thought to be leading the chase for the 23-year-old Angolan-born Portugal international, according to The Mirror, with the player valued at around £20 million.

Why the interest now from Real Madrid?

Real Madrid entering the race for Carvalho is believed to be at the specific request of manager Rafa Benitez, who after careful consideration of his midfield options, feels he will offer a much stronger option, compared to Illarramendi.

The Basque player has struggled to make an impact with Real Madrid, so now his future is increasingly pointing towards a move elsewhere this summer.

A move for Carvalho won't be easy though, given reports from ESPN recently, which highlighted Sporting Lisbon boss Jorge Jesus as being confident the player will stay, despite the wealth of interest.

The Portuguese club will be determined not to sell Carvalho, but the influence of his agent, Jorge Mendes, could prove decisive factor in the player securing a move to Real Madrid.

Will Liverpool now launch a successful bid for Illarramendi?

There have been contrasting reports over just how interested Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is, when it comes to signing the 25-year-old former Real Sociedad player.

Just a few days ago, Spanish outlet Marca insisted that Liverpool remain on the alert, even though a previous bid of £10.6 million was reportedly rejected by Real Madrid in June, according to The Telegraph, who speculated it would take an offer of £15 million to land Illarramendi.

Meanwhile, Liverpool Echo journalist James Pearce recently informed the Fresh Liverpool podcast: "The people I've spoken to at Liverpool have said that it is not the case and he’s not a player they’re actively pursuing at the moment."

For now at least, it all depends on how solid the interest for Carvalho is from Real Madrid. If that deal happens, it will be interesting to see if Liverpool do then actively pursue Illarramendi.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch