Full Name: Asier Illarramendi Andonegi
Team: Real Sociedad
Birth Date: March 8, 1990
Birth Place: Mutriku, Spain
Height: 5 feet 9 inches
The Basque youngster continues a rich tradition of great talent coming out of this particular region of Spain. Athletic Bilbao often get the plaudits for their development of players like Iker Muniain but this time it is their fierce rivals, Real Sociedad that are bringing youngsters up through their ranks. Illarramendi is another defensive midfielder that seems destined for the senior national side, a side that already boasts, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez as world class midfield anchors.
Illarramendi is a small town lad, who still lives in his hometown of Mutriku, a coastal town in the Basque Country in Northern Spain. Despite the fact that his performances for La Real this season will have drawn the gaze of clubs from all over Europe, he maintains that he is happy in Spain.
“I go to train every day with Real Sociedad and then come home,” he told UEFA.com. “I’ve got everything I need there – family, friends, my girlfriend. I’m happier there than anywhere else.”
Despite this, he looks to be a key cog in Julen Lopetegui’s side in Isreal for the U21 European Championship and for the senior side moving forward.
The twenty-three year old is a one club man so far in his career, having been brought up through La Real’s cantera and then spending three seasons with the B side, learning his trade and helping them gain promotion back to the Segunda Division B. There are few players who can dictate the tempo of a game in such a way that it looks effortless and Illarramendi is one of those. Everything starts with him when he is on the pitch, whether for club or country, he begins attacks playing on his more creative teammates with clever passes. Defensively his positioning is sound, allowing for those same creative players to commit forward, knowing that Asier is behind them ready to win the ball back and start the cycle all over again.
Illarramendi anchored Real Sociedad to an impressive campaign which saw the club finish fourth in La Liga, lining them up for a UEFA Champions League qualification spot over the summer. His summer with the U21 Spanish side could be a great finish to a stellar season for a youngster who we have not finished hearing about.