‘Illarra rejected Athletic offer’

Real Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi has turned down the opportunity to join Athletic Bilbao, according to Carlo Ancelotti.

The Basque midfielder had been expected to depart for Los Leones if the offer presented itself, but the Coach denied this to be the case and stated that the €32.2m man would start for Los Blancos against his former club Real Sociedad on Saturday.

“[Asier Illarramendi] will play on Saturday. He received an offer from Athletic, but the player is comfortable and happy here,” he said at a Press conference.

“We’re happy with him, too, because whenever he’s played he’s done well.”

With Cristiano Ronaldo ineligible due to his two-match ban, Ancelotti confirmed Madrid would switch to a 4-4-2 formation, with Gareth Bale moving to the left flank and James Rodriguez filling in on the right.

“[Lucas Silva] is in the squad. He’s doing well and may get some minutes,” he added.

“We’ll switch to 4-4-2 and James will be given a more attacking role. Bale’s position has changed a little, he’ll play on the left.

“I prefer to have James on the right wing, but other than that it’ll be our usual game.

 “Bale is a teammate who can help [Martin] Odegaard. He needs patience to show his quality and must be given time to improve. We have to manage his talent.

“[The defeat to La Real] was just a moment, we improved after that. The new players just needed time to acclimatise. We’re another Madrid now.

“We have to play with more intensity and defensive pressure. We allow too many counterattacks.”

Tags Asier Illarramendi Carlo Ancelotti Gareth Bale James Rodriguez Transfers