22 Midfielder Real Madrid Spain
2014 has been...
Isco’s first season with Real Madrid went pretty well even if the club had to settle for third place in the league. There was the small matter of a Champions League victory.
The young midfielder settled into his new star-studded surroundings much quicker than we expected and earned his place in a team littered with ridiculously expensive signings. He played an important role in the club winning their 10th European Cup and cemented himself in the team’s midfield.
Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez’s career has been on an upward trajectory for the last few seasons and hasn’t showed signs of slowing down. An exciting prospect in the academy of sleeping giants Valencia, teenage Isco made no secret of his desperation for game time. Having been surprisingly told that his opportunities would be limited, Los Che were made to look rather foolish as their brightest prospect engineered a move to Malaga (by way of the €6 million release clause in his contract) and then started to light up La Liga with moments of wonder.
He starred for the team, even when the club’s filthy rich owner reneged on his supposed master plan of dragging Malaga to the top table of the game with continuous windows of lavish signings. The whole team impressed with their play and but for three ridiculous minutes when they collectively panicked against Borussia Dortmund, Isco would have lined up in the semi-finals of the 2013 Champions League against Real Madrid.
Instead, Malaga’s European dream ended in the last eight and Isco’s time with south-coast club ended a couple of months later after Real Madrid offered €30 million for his services.
Isco didn’t skip a beat and transitioned into his new team as though it was the most natural thing for his game. He hit the ground running by scoring four goals and providing an assist in his opening five games, with all four goals coming at the Santiago Bernabeu. It also helped to immediately endear him with the Real Madrid faithful.
He showcased his neat control, accurate passing and confidence playing across the pitch in the opening few games of his and Carlo Ancelotti’s time at the club. His capture appeared like a masterstroke and his performances did a fine job of helping Los Blancos fans to forget Mesut Özil, who had departed mere hours before the transfer window had closed.
The 22 year-old has continued to improve at Madrid and in doing so, he has been able to adapt his game and become more rounded. He plays deeper than he did at Malaga and has started to unleash electrifying pace that makes him a useful weapon in Real’s devastating counter attacks.
Unfortunately for the player himself, he didn’t go to the World Cup. Although – at the risk of appearing to be making excuses for the lad – in hindsight, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Spain flopped badly as both the Netherlands and Chile formulated master plans to pick them off and as such, Isco isn’t tarred with the brush of failure. Instead, he can graduate into the senior squad as planned – he continued to turn out for the under-21 squad until October when they failed to qualify for next year’s UEFA under-21 European Championships – and start to lead the team ahead of Euro 2016.
The retirements from international football of centurions Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez have left holes in the Spanish midfield that Isco can replace; although certainly not replicate. He has been taking responsibility in teams since he played in the under-16s for Spain and will relish the chance to step up for the senior team. He’ll bring a new different drive to the midfield and therefore, change the style of play slightly but he is capable of forming a relationship with Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta for now and Koke in time for the 2018 World Cup.
The majority of football clubs in the world can only dream of coughing up €27 million for a single footballer. At a club like Real Madrid, €27 million is a relatively cheap deal when compared to the astronomical amounts that were splashed out to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez. It makes Isco’s growth into a first team regular all the sweeter for those involved.
Isco is constantly proving himself worth the price, with vital assists, lightning quick interceptions that set attacks in motion or defence splitting passes for the forward players ahead of him. The youngster has got league titles and more cup trophies in his sights. Helping Real to win La Decima should be just the start.
The 22 year-old doesn’t play every minute of every game for Madrid; but when he is one of the players rested for the crucial encounters in the season you just know he is important to the whole plan. Real have been sweeping teams aside in La Liga, after a slightly sketchy start and have been busy breaking club records in the last couple of months. Isco is a trusted part of Ancelottii’s first XI for the very biggest matches in the season.
Isco has wonderful control, the capability to take on and beat players and a superb passing range. In the last year, his defensive work has improved enough to operate deeper in the line-up and allow Real’s three attacking stars to remain high up the field. He has grown into a better player at Madrid; but can still get even better.
"With such high profile arrivals at the most glamorous club, it was feared on of Spain’s most precious talents would be sidelined. On the contrary, Isco has blossomed, taking the challenge and becoming a player in the process. Carlo Ancelotti’s deployment of the player in the interior role has handed the player an extra dimension, one that could make him a complete midfielder on the world stage." - David Cartlidge
"Isco has played 75 games in all competitions for Real Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti; more than any other player (started 49)." - OptaJoe
B Has progressed exactly on schedule to take over the Spanish midfield from the men gone before him.
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