Moves to Real Madrid from any club can have disastrous implications. It seems the pressure, not just from local but from national and global media, can get to even the best of players. And yet Isco, still only 21, seems to be loving every minute of it.
If there were preseason awards for best assist, his incredible pass to Karim Benzema as Real Madrid beat the Los Angeles Galaxy should be it. But a win over American teams, as good as the MLS might be right now compared to a few years ago, are no indication of things to come. Isco’s ability, confidence in himself and from his head coach, is.
The 21-year old had a busy summer. Right after another impressive top 6 finish with Malaga (but their European season was taken away from them due to financial problems) and reaching the quarterfinals of the Champions League, Isco led Spain, along with Thiago and current teammate Alvaro Morata to a convincing title in the U-21 European championship. Isco scored three goals in the tournament, including in the semifinal and final, as they swept the tournament with five consecutive wins.
Real Madrid is a different story. Playing with kids doesn’t make you a made-star, as dominant as you may be. However, his last couple of seasons with Malaga do. Last season was more proof of Isco being one of the more sure-thing prospects in European football. He scored a total of 15 goals for Malaga, including three in the champions league, and showed he has no problem being effective as a playmaker in a dominant-possession team or as a counter attack executioner, which included their impressive win over Real Madrid in December, with Isco scoring one of the goals.
For now, it seems like any worries about him and Mesut Ozil being a bit too much for each other in the same lineup were exaggerated. Ozil will probably be playing a lot more on the right side of Ancelotti’s formations, while Isco is usually in the middle, between the two wingers, along with another midfielder. It’s been changing and rotating for now, but Isco seems to be one of the constants in Ancelotti’s plans for next season, and he isn’t going to be moved from where he’s most comfortable at.
Gareth Bale arriving might change a lot of things in terms of the formations we’re going to see, but it’s too soon to say. Most of the rumors coming out of this transfer saga seem to be originating from the unreliable Spanish press, which means we might still have a very long way before Spurs are convinced by all the money Real Madrid are flashing at their direction.
Isco had a chance to play in the Premier League. Both Manchester United and Arsenal went after him in 2012 but failed to reach any agreement. Manchester City were very close to signing him this summer, but Real Madrid convinced him to stay in Spain. The money of the Premier League and whatever allure it used to have is weakening. Isco choosing Real Madrid might not be as expensive when you look at the money thrown at Bale or the sum Neymar was bought for, but he might be just as good and important of a player for Real Madrid’s plans and hopes next season.