What is going on with Isco at Real Madrid?

Following his quite wonderful performances for the Spanish national team, the situation regarding Isco’s domestic future has returned to the back pages, however the Spanish midfielder’s position will become clearer at the end of the season.

Unsurprisingly, he has once again been linked with a move to Manchester City with Zinedine Zidane unwilling to hand him a starting spot at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Isco has gone from being one of the first names on the team-sheet at the beginning of the campaign to an afterthought as Los Blancos domestic season has crumbled.

Champions League success is the only thing that will save the French coach’s job in the Spanish capital, and if he doesn’t remain in charge it seems impossible that Isco will be allowed to leave.

The former Malaga playmaker signed a lucrative new contract in 2017 that runs until June 2022, and it contains a mammoth 700 million euro buyout clause. There isn’t a conceivable scenario where the Spanish giants could be forced to sell.

However, Isco isn’t playing football at this moment and whilst his place in the World Cup squad has been assured by Julen Lopetegui, it’s not good for his development, especially after it appeared as though he was going to fulfil his potential after a fantastic start to the season.

From a purely on-pitch perspective, the 25-year-old would be a perfect fit in Pep Guardiola’s team at the Etihad Stadium, he’s every bit the technician David Silva is, and he’s got more years left in his prime.

His style of football is incredibly easy on the eye, he’s elegant but also can provide the finishing touches to moves from midfield. Real Madrid have been at their most attractive when Isco has been in the side, unfortunately defensive lapses and poor finishing has often meant this has coincided with damaging domestic defeats.

Isco hasn’t always had the best relationship with Zidane, during the early months of the former Juventus midfielder’s time in charge, the Spanish international couldn’t break into the team either.

Zidane couldn’t fully trust either James Rodriguez or Isco as a playmaker in a three-man midfield, eventually Isco produced the kind of phenomenal performances at the back end of the 2016/17 season that ensured he couldn’t be left out. This saw him awarded the aforementioned contract extension and appeared to put an end to any speculation linking him with a move away.

As Rodriguez left for Bayern Munich, it seemed as though the position was Isco’s to hold, he put in a perfect display against Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup, it seemed unthinkable on that night that he would lose his place.

If Zidane can motivate his charges and somehow win the Champions League, then Isco’s situation changes once again. The Frenchman has always been eager to avoid wholesale change in the transfer market, much to the chagrin of Florentino Perez, however you don’t feel as though the midfielder wishes to waste anymore time as a backup option, he’s more than proved himself.

“In Madrid I don’t have the confidence a player needs,” he explained following the 6-1 victory over Argentina.

“Maybe I’m the problem in Madrid, I don’t know how to win Zidane’s confidence.”

Winning the Champions League would save the club’s season, it would be a historic feat of lifting the famous trophy in three successive seasons, it would be incredibly difficult for Perez to justify dismissing Zidane in that event.

Should he stay in his post then Isco may find himself in a similar situation as Alvaro Morata last summer. The forward was clear he wanted to be a regular starter and not a rotation option in Madrid.

There is likely to be a personnel shift in the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu this summer, the forward line needs rejuvenating and it’s likely any one of Gareth Bale and Isco could be forced out.

Whilst Los Blancos are an incredibly wealthy club, there are question marks over whether or not they have the disposable income of the two Manchester clubs and Paris-Saint Germain. Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowksi are two of the main targets for the summer whilst stories linking Neymar with a return to LaLiga won’t go away.

Real Madrid are unlikely to be able to fund such moves without moving players on and there is no doubt that Isco leaving would see a transfer fee of upwards of £75 million in the current market.

Now if his exile from the starting line-up continues into next season then his value would dip, yet at the present moment it’s clear he’d be an asset to almost any other team in Europe.


Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn

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