Francisco Roman Alarcon Suarez. Or Isco for short. With rumours swirling around the Spanish forward regarding his future, could his stay at Real Madrid be about to be cut short?
The 26-year-old has had a funny old time of it at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sometimes the darling of the devoted Madridistas, on other occasions the scapegoat. There’s no denying he’s supremely talented, but he’s out of favour under Santiago Solari and it remains to be seen which of the two lasts longest in the Spanish capital.
Signed from Malaga in 2013 for around €30m, Isco has never quite held the true affection of president Florentino Perez. His arrival was something of an appeasement to Madrid fans desperate for a Spanish star in their side, in the face of a heavy Barcelona contingent in the national side. For that reason, Perez is putting no pressure on Solari to play Isco, despite captioning La Roja towards the end of the year.
The president certainly has a say in team selection, and an even bigger one in transfer policy. It was his decision to sell Cristiano Ronaldo and keep Gareth Bale in the summer, which led to Zinedine Zidane’s abrupt departure after securing a hat-trick of Champions League triumphs. If Perez is apathetic to Isco’s presence in the side, Solari’s hand is only strengthened.
That’s led to the rumour mill going into overdrive over the gifted player’s future. There’s been speculation that Manchester City could be interested, but the Premier League champions are well-stocked in the forward positions and Isco wouldn’t be a high priority at a time when the Blues aren’t being quite so bullish with their cash – just look at their refusal to pay Alexis Sanchez the big bucks this time last year.
City are 16/1 to sign Isco, but it’s probably best to avoid that. Arsenal are 33/1 and have also been linked. They may need a replacement for Mesut Ozil with the German playmaker out of favour under Unai Emery. However, the Gunners boss was manager of Valencia when the club allowed Isco to leave in 2011, and the Emirates outfit are looking to jettison a player accused of a lack of energy and intensity – two things Isco is certainly not renowned for.
Indeed, concerns over those elements of his game are thought to have persuaded Manchester United he isn’t suited to the Premier League. The Red Devils have enjoyed splashing the cash on big names since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, but there seems to be a change in ideology occurring at Old Trafford right now. At 6/1, we can probably rule United out of the running, despite those being the shortest odds on any club.
Chelsea would also appear to be another dead end for Isco’s representatives, considering Maurizio Sarri’s system and the demands he places on his players. They are also 6/1 with the bookies though. Like United, Paris Saint-Germain are never averse to getting out the chequebook. They are 10/1 to sign Isco in January, but they’re also brimming with attacking options.
Isco’s options, therefore, don’t seem to be brimming though, especially when you consider Juventus have put their eggs in former team mate Cristiano Ronaldo’s basket when it comes to securing that elusive Champions League triumph. Could a loan move to Tottenham be on the cards, considering their current injury crisis? That’s 33/1 if you think so.
However, the likeliest scenario would appear to be Isco sticking it out at Real Madrid, at least until the summer. Solari was somewhat surprisingly given a contract until 2021 when his interim appointment became permanent earlier this season. Yet Madrid are never shy when it comes to getting rid of managers who are underperforming, and Los Blancos are currently 10 points behind Barcelona in the table. If a big-name manager is free come the end of the campaign, they could easily replace Solari.
With that in mind, Isco is 1/2 to stay at Real Madrid this month, and that seems to be where the smart money lies. With no obvious destination, you could back him at 13/8 to leave Real for any club if you think he’ll go though.