Replacing Gerrard: Liverpool eye ‘unwanted’ Real Madrid ace

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The Sunday People and the Metro have both gone big and bold over the last few days with claims that Liverpool are in talks to sign Real Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi, who is reportedly seen as a potential replacement for departing captain Steven Gerrard.

Much transfer speculation at this time of year must be taken with a sizeable spoonful of sodium, but there are more than enough reasons to believe there’s something in this link.

Madrid paid Real Sociedad somewhere between £23-£35m for the yet-to-be-capped Spaniard less than two years ago, with the usually reliable BBC website’s guess at the high end of that spectrum.

At such a cost, the Bernabeu faithful would have expected more from the Basque than 20 La Liga starts from a possible 63, only one of which has come against either Barcelona or Atletico Madrid, when Carlo Ancelotti’s side went down 1-0 at home to their city rivals 18 months ago.

The European champions’ seemingly unlimited financial resources have been further plundered for Toni Kroos and Lucas Silva during the past two transfer windows, which has undoubtedly left ‘Illarra’ further marginalised as both players cover his deep-midfield position.

The Metro insists the 24-year-old is not part of Ancelotti’s plans, despite Madrid’s reluctance to sell during January when Athletic Bilbao and Arsenal came knocking with reported £15m-plus bids.

However, with Sami Khedira’s return from a series of post-World Cup injuries to shunt his club teammate further down the Los Merengues pecking order, an Illarramendi summer move seems very much on the cards

Switching to Anfield will surely depend on Brendan Rodgers’ side’s success in regaining a Champions League place for next term, which they’re 13/10 to do after seeing off Premier League champions Manchester City at home over the weekend.

That being said, it’s easy to see the attraction the Reds might hold for a midfielder like Illarramendi, who would have the chance to follow in the footsteps of one of Europe’s dominant midfield forces alongside fellow burgeoning Spaniards Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo.

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