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Illarramendi relishing Alonso link-up

New Real Madrid signing Asier Illarramendi has told Real Madrid TV that Xabi Alonso, who many believe the midfielder has been brought in to replace, will be a key figure in his development.

Madrid completed the signing of Illarramendi, 23, from Real Sociedad for €38 million last week.

And with Alonso turning 32 in November and currently recovering from surgery on a groin injury, there have been suggestions the Spain Under-21 international's arrival will pave the way for the former Liverpool man's exit from Los Blancos.

However, Illarramendi said of Alonso - who, like Madrid's new signing, also came up through the ranks at the Basque club: "Xabi is a great player, which he's shown throughout his career. He will be a very important team-mate for me and I'm looking forward to training and playing with him. I will try to learn as much as I can from him."

But despite highlighting Alonso's importance, Illarramendi was in no doubt as to who the player will be to deliver success to Madrid this season.

"Real Madrid have many great players but the reference is Cristiano Ronaldo," he said. "He's an amazing player, the best in the world, and you have to give it all when you're playing alongside him. Let's hope everything goes well this year and it's a very successful season."

Illarramendi was keen to thank Madrid president Florentino Perez for giving him the opportunity to move to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

"It's not every day you get a phone call from Florentino Perez," he said. "He told me that they had been watching me closely and they were eager to sign me. Now I'm here and I will give everything I have to this club."

The holding midfielder admitted that joining Los Blancos and moving to the Spanish capital was an enormous change for him, but said it was a challenge he was relishing.

"I'm from a village with a population of 5,000 inhabitants so moving to the capital won't be easy," he said. "It will be a huge change but I'm not afraid, you have to make big changes in life and this is a very attractive challenge."

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