Spanish football expert Guillem Balague has insisted that Isco is too poor a player to thrive at Real Madrid. I disagree. ‘Many people will say Isco is a typical Arsenal player,’ Balague said on Sky Sports. ‘He is an elegant player who fails to fulfill his potential, doesn’t score or assist enough and doesn’t work hard enough without the ball.” It’s hard to tell whether that is more of a dig at Arsenal or Isco himself. He may not thrive at Madrid due to competition and currently playing for Europe’s top side, nonetheless his ability would improve any Premier League side. “Poor” is not a word you can associate with Isco.
Arsenal or City?
Arsenal have been linked with Real Madrid playmaker Isco for as long as he has struggled to become an indispensable part of Los Blancos squad. Additionally, fresh rumours have surfaced today that the midfielder is excited by the prospect of playing for City manager Pep Guardiola, who assured him that he’ll have every chance to nail down a regular spot at the Etihad.
The 23-year-old began his career at Valencia, then had a stint at Malaga before moving to Madrid in 2013 for a reported fee of €30m (£23m). Best utilised in an attacking midfield position his job is to deploy his technical ability and influence the game in the final third.
As a wider player, he wouldn’t be your out and out winger, but instead cut inside into his more natural role. Isco has terrific vision and can unlock a defence with a perfect pass. Of course, playing with who I believe to be the best midfielder in the world (Modric) would have undoubtedly helped his development.
Not afraid to shoot form distance, Isco combines this talent with the aptitude of skipping past the opposition smoothly.
At 5 ft 9in, he may not win many aerial duels and offers little defensively. Quite often when the team is faced against an attack, Isco turns invisible and is not able to contribute enough. Let’s just say Jose won’t be calling anytime soon.
I had a look at the number of minutes Isco has played in the last 10 Madrid games: 68, 79, 71, 90, 14, 18, 90, 20, 11 and 79.
Perhaps not ideal, but hardly an under-valued player at Madrid. We see similar statistics for a player like Raheem Sterling, a player hardly synonymous with an up-coming summer transfer. The Madrid boss recently commented in a post-match press conference Isco is a great player and he has shown that Madrid is where he belongs. He has shown with his performance that he is a great player.”
Zidane rings the changes regularly and on current form it’s hard to argue with him. Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema, Modric and Kroos have all been rested when needed. In have come Isco, James Rodriguez, Morata, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez forming a formidable front five. Each of those players would be starters at most other sides, but Isco is head and shoulders above any of them for me. “If I have been unfair to Isco I have been unfair to all who do not play. In the end we are 24 players and everyone can play outside of Real Madrid.”
Out of contract in 2018, Madrid must convince the 24-year-old that he has a future at the Santiago Bernabeu and tempt him into signing a new deal. If they cannot, Europe’s elite clubs will be lining up to offer the Spain star a permanent place in their first XI – because he is simply just too good to be on the bench.