No go for Isco: is Spanish playmaker wise to stay put?
As one of Spain’s most prodigious talents, it would be understandable should Real Madrid playmaker Isco be tempted by apparent interest from abroad, from clubs where he could conceivably become the top-billed talent.
A seemingly modest, homegrown and hard-working player willing to sacrifice for his side, Isco has often been overlooked by the Bernabeu hierarchy in favour of Galactico names, and will never be the main man while the likes of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo are on their books.
However, according to reports, former Malaga man Isco is set to snub a summer transfer after being promised a key role in the squad by new Real boss Rafa Benitez (priced at 5/1 by Coral to win the Champions League with Los Blancos). Just two terms into a three-year-deal in the Spanish capital, it seems the 23-year-old is not quite ready to throw in the towel.
The highly-rated attacking midfielder could well be making a mistake, though. While pragmatic Benitez may be aware of adaptable Isco’s value, Madrid’s big-wigs do not always agree with their gaffers, and there is no guarantee that the tactician will still be ensconced in the Spanish giant’s dugout come the end of the campaign.
An impressive-looking 66 La Liga outings in Isco’s two seasons so far seem fair, but stats don’t tell the whole story, as the skilful Spaniard played a whole 90 minutes on just 23 of those occasions.
Not quite the finished product nor still a young-gun, Isco is at an important phase in his development, and the next few terms could be crucial in deciding whether the midfield plotter becomes a very good player, or a great one.
The vision and desire are all there, but the list of promising players to have fallen by the wayside or to have seen their careers derailed by a move to Real Madrid (7/4 to lift La Liga) is a long one, and risking substantial time on the bench at this point is risky for Isco, despite Benitez’s rumoured support.
Inventive Isco has already been shunted around the starting XI, deployed by Carlo Ancelotti in a deeper role to accommodate for injuries to Luka Modric and Sami Khedira. Perhaps his experience in a more disciplined position at Real will prove to be a blessing in disguise, as the Iberian attacker flourished while conducting from deep, putting in tenacious displays and pressing impressively in the absence of a true defensive shield.
Having proven how tactically intelligent, adept and versatile he is, it is no wonder clubs are said to be queuing up to test Real’s resolve for the nine-capped Spain star.
See Isco at his best:
Where will the space be for Isco, however, in a balanced Benitez side? The Spanish coach will undoubtedly field a more defensive-minded recruit in the engine room, while the likes of Modric, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez will all be competing for the playmaking positions, and the flanks are also chock-full of talent.
Perhaps Isco, who has just 17 goals and 23 assists in 106 appearances for Los Blancos, could arguably be further along in his development, but the Valencia youth product is all about artistry and pulling the strings behind the scenes.
With elections imminent at Barcelona, a tug-of-war for superstar signings such as Paul Pogba could commence, so Isco cannot count on patience from a club where there is no room for error, lest he become the next talent to be discarded.
In fact, Isco could do worse than follow the example of compatriot Alvaro Morata, who got fed up of biding his time at the Bernabeu and returned to haunt Real after becoming a sensation in Turin.
Old Lady boss Massimiliano Allegri has already spoken openly of admiration of Isco, stating: “I would really like a player who can invent a match and is never predictable – I need that wildcard within a balanced, structured tactical scheme… I like Real Madrid’s Isco a lot.”
See an excellent Isco goal:
Juve will most likely need to add an imaginative midfielder to their roster should both Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba plus potentially Arturo Vidal exit Italy, and Isco would slot straight in to a side which, being strong defensively, would allow him to take the shackles off and express his style, without the baying crowds behind him.
Arsenal and Manchester City, who can offer Isco’s former mentor Manuel Pellegrini, are also said to be tracking the Spanish string-puller, but it seems any move will be put on the back-burner for now.
While Isco’s confidence in fighting for a place can be commended, fans of the young talent will be hoping he does not find himself in the same uncertain position this time next season.