Premier League side Liverpool have expressed serious interest in signing 25-year-old Real Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi, and have stepped up their bid for the Spaniard, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.
While an initial offer of €15 million (£10.7 million) was made for the former Spain U-23 player, it has been learnt that the Galacticos had turned the Reds down. However, the Brendan Rodgers-led side have increased their bid to €22 million (£15.7 million), and Real Madrid are reportedly impressed with the offer, and are also keen on selling the player to the Premier League outfit this summer.
Real had paid close to €35 million (£25 million) to Real Sociedad in the summer of 2013 to land the Spanish midfielder. He was offered a six-year-deal then. Illarramendi has not been able to break into the Real Madrid team consistently, and is therefore expected to leave the club.
The ball is in the court of ex-Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez now, and a deal will only be done if he wants to let go of the 25-year-old midfielder to the club he managed some years back. The Reds dropped down to sixth position following the conclusion of the Premier League 2014-15 season, after a remarkable 2013-14 season, where they managed to come second.
It is also to be noted that the exit of high-profile names like Luis Suarez and, more recently, club legend Steven Gerrard has pushed the club in stepping up their pursuits for players in this summer transfer market.
The exit of Gerrard is believed to leave a significant void in midfield, and someone like Illarramendi is believed to fill up the former England skipper's shoes in the long run.
If Liverpool manage to secure the Spaniard's signature this summer, it will be their fifth signing, with the club already having snapped up striker Danny Ings from Burnley FC, goalkeeper Adam Bodgan from Bolton Wanderers, midfielder James Milner from Manchester City, and starlet defender Joe Gomez from Charlton Athletic, in this summer transfer window.
Ings, 22, was instrumental for Burnley last season, as he scored 11 goals out of 35 appearances, but he unfortunately couldn't help his side stay above the relegation zone.
All the transfers will be official on 1 July, when the transfer window opens, subject to a medical.