Reports in the Spanish press have said La Liga strugglers Athletic Bilbao want to take Asier Illarramendi on loan from Real Madrid for the rest of the season.
The Basque midfielder has only made eight starts for Los Blancos this season despite long-term injuries to Luka Modric and Sami Khedira and is believed to be keen on the chance to play regular first team football.
Despite the lack of playing time, boss Carlo Ancelotti is keen to keep the 24-year-old at the Santiago Bernabeu for now as cover – although his long-term future may be away from the 10-time European Cup winners.
Illarramendi arrived in the Spanish capital in a 35 million euro deal from Real Sociedad in the summer of 2013 and was thought to be the long-term successor to Xabi Alonso in he heart of the Real midfield. But he failed to make a serious impact last season and has struggled once again this year.
Athletic would offer him the chance to lay regularly and get his confidence and form back and put himself in the shop window for any potential suitors this summer. According to El Mundo Deportivo, the San Mames outfit are also eying moves for Arsenal pair Mikel Arteta and Nacho Monreal in addition to Illarramendi.