Real Madrid splash €39million on Illarramendi
Real Madrid's summer policy of recruiting with one eye on the future continued today as they pushed through a move for Real Sociedad midfielder Asier Illarramendi.
After failing to successfully negotiate a fee with the San Sebastian club for the Spain Under-21 international, Madrid put the matter out of Sociedad's hands by agreeing to meet his buy-out clause.
The overall cost, made up of the clause and the associated tax penalties, to Madrid is reported to be in the region of 39million euros (£33.6m).
It is further evidence of Madrid investing in youth with Illarramendi joining Isco, another new recruit and a fellow member of the Spain side which recently won the European Under-21 Championship in Israel, at the Bernabeu.
A Madrid statement read: "Real Madrid have signed Asier Illarramendi, who is now tied to the club for the next six seasons.
"The player will be presented tomorrow after undergoing the relevant medical tests."
Illarramendi rose to prominence at Sociedad last season, playing an important role as they finished fourth in the Primera Division, securing a place in the Champions League in the process.
The 23-year-old said at a press conference: "I want to thank Real Sociedad for everything they have given me. I came here as a child, and leave here as a man.
"I would prefer to say 'until next time' rather than goodbye. This will always be my club."
Illarramendi accepts his life is now set to change due to the increased scrutiny in the capital.
"Madrid will be different, there will be more attention on me there," he said.
"I will give my all and we'll see what happens. I'll give everything in every training session and if I get the chance to play I'll also give my all.
"I love Real Sociedad but I had to take a decision and of course the thought of playing for Real Madrid excites me. They are a great team that always compete for trophies."
Sociedad had been hoping to keep hold of their prize asset but, in the end, money talked as Madrid got their man.
Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay said: "This morning the Ligue de Futbol Profesional (Spanish Football League) called to tell us that Real Madrid have activated Illarramendi's buy-out clause.
"We have a very important year ahead of us with a young coach (Jagoba Arrasate) and we wanted all our players to stay.
"We told Real Madrid that we wouldn't negotiate, and we said the same thing to Asier and his agents. We fought very hard for him to stay and it's been a difficult few days because we really wanted him to stay.
"We wish him all the best and hope he doesn't forget his time at La Real."
Illarramendi has spent his entire youth and professional career at Sociedad and admitted he was leaving with a heavy heart.
"It hasn't been an easy decision, it has been very difficult for me to decide because Real Sociedad have given me so much," he said.
"I was on holiday when we started to hear about the interest from Real Madrid. There were contacts, we mulled it over and came to the conclusion that it was an offer we couldn't refuse. It's a unique opportunity."
He added: "I thank the board, the academy coaches, the backroom staff and my team-mates. I wish them all the best. This club will achieve great things."
Illarramendi becomes Madrid's fourth signing of the summer - Isco and Dani Carvajal joining from Malaga and Bayer Leverkusen respectively while midfielder Casemiro's loan deal from Sao Paul was made permanent.
The quartet will work next season under new Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, who moved from Paris St Germain to replace Jose Mourinho.