It all started off very well. After arriving at his Bernabéu in Santiago in the summer of 2013 for €30m (now he’s £26.5m, now he’s $32.6m), Isco immediately showed his quality and his style of play. At Real he was accepted by his Madrid fans.
The 21-year-old was then Carlo Ancelotti’s first signing as coach, but he and Zinedine Zidane, who replaced Rafael Benitez in January 2016, were particularly vulnerable to Gareth Bale’s attacking goals. Trident, but Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo were all available.
Isco showed perseverance and character to bring his natural creative talents to the team. In his first five seasons with Madrid he won four Champions Leagues in his league, winning against Juventus and Liverpool in 2017 and his 2018 final match.
Calendar year 2017, when Isco turned 25, marked the peak of his Real Madrid career. He scored his 12th goal in all competitions during this 12 months period. This is more than any other midfielder in his La Liga.
However, the year raised many questions about his future.
There have been months of negotiations with Madrid executives about extending the contract, which expires in June 2018. There was also regular talk in the Spanish media of foreign suitors such as Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester City, and there were even rumors that Barcelona might seduce him. Cross the Classico watershed to the Camp Nou.
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That speculation ended in September 2017, when Isco signed a new deal that included a €700m (£619m, now $762m) release clause, giving him €6m after tax. paid. At the Bernabéu, he has a relatively high salary, along with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
In the summer of 2018, the appointment of Isco’s mentor Julen Lopetegui as Spain Under-21 and later senior national team coach looked like another positive development. We set out to shake the underperforming side.
Solari believed he was working for the benefit of the entire club by giving chances to 18-year-old forward Vinicius Junior and then-20-year-old midfielder Federico Valverde.
Isco was clearly offended by this treatment and publicly refused to shake hands with Solari after a 3-0 away loss to Eibar in November. He also appeared to be clearly delving into the Argentine coach, tweeting on social media that he “doesn’t enjoy the same opportunities as his teammates.”
Solari’s revolution lasted only four months before he was fired. Zidane made his second appointment as manager in March and quickly regained the favor of Isco and full-back Marcelo.
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As the years went by, Isco strayed further and further from the image of a top team. By his late 20s, he seemed incapable of meeting the physical demands of his coaches, and even his teammate Marcelo publicly warned in 2018 that he needed to work harder in training.
There were also tactical issues. Isco’s preferred floating No. 10 position is one that’s not often adopted in modern football, something his fellow ex-Madrid playmakers Mesut Ozil and James Rodriguez have learned too painfully.
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Zidane referred to Isco and Marcelo in particular later in 2020, saying, “I love these players so much that I am sorry about it.”I will never forget everything I went through with them. No. Now they have to do their job.”
Zidane continued to give Isco several chances, starting him in the away Clásico in December 2019 and the following February in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 at home to Manchester City. rice field. However, he spent a lot of time on the bench while remaining on the bumper contract agreed in 2017.
By the summer of 2021, the Madrid hierarchy would have happily cut his salary. AC Milan offered him a move to Serie A, but it was not seriously considered as it meant a salary cut.
When Ancelotti returned from Everton that June, he gave the former player a chance to prove that he could still serve the team. He started in two of those games, but failed to impress. The two were on good terms, but Isco’s situation was very different. The player had not received an offer to renew and felt he was going to move out.
He made just one more league start all season and played 0 minutes in total in the Champions League despite being named on the bench nine times. So when that deal, signed in 2017, was set to expire last June, it was clear Madrid had no chance of renewing it.
Isco and his agents, including now super agent Jorge Mendes, were convinced another big Champions League club, perhaps a team outside of Spain, would want him. have chosen to stay in their home country with Sevilla, which can offer football for
It was all a chance to reunite with Lopetegui. Lopetegui worked hard to bring him to Sevilla despite the objections of sporting director Monchi.
Some people who knew Isco during his time in Madrid wondered if Isco could still put in the effort and show everyone that he could still be a top player. Although he quickly entered the team, Sevilla won only once in his first ten games in all competitions, and Lopetegui was sacked in his early October.
His successor, Jorge Sampaoli, also chose Isco for most matches until the World Cup hiatus began in mid-November. It was also clear that it would be very useful in terms of funding the restructuring of the team.
With Lopetegui gone, Isco and Monchi had a heated discussion about the training ground in front of the other players in December. Shortly after it was announced that he was leaving as a free agent, it came as no surprise to anyone that he left just six months from a two-year deal.
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Monch has publicly said it was a “mistake” to sign him, and that it “would have been a further mistake” to continue making mistakes by not ending their relationship in January.
By then, Isco had become an economically viable target for Bundesliga club Union Berlin, who had shown interest early in the winter window. I was.
But the MLS approach never materialized. One of his reasons is the fact that interested clubs had to make him a designated player in order to pay him close to what he was earning in Europe.
So, just as the winter windows were closing, talks with Union Berlin resumed and it was verbally agreed that Isco would move to the German capital on Monday night 30 January to receive medical care and sign a contract. agreed on. But just as he was due to successfully complete his medical care and put his pen to paper on Tuesday, the deadline day, the deal fell through because conditions changed, according to the player’s aides.
Isco was keen on a chance to play in the Europa League with Union Berlin (they would beat Ajax in the play-offs to reach the last 16), but this is not possible after the situation has deteriorated. A source at the club, who requested anonymity to protect their relationship, described it as a “huge misunderstanding.”
Union sources say Isco should have known he would not be able to play in Europe.
“I wanted Isco to be with us, but there is a limit. Runat said.
Throughout the episode, Union stated that Isco’s demeanor was positive and calm, and that he took his failed moves philosophically.
On the final day of the winter transfer window, Isco was thus unemployed.
Since then, he has had offers from clubs in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as interest from La Liga. But nothing has materialized. Reports earlier this month suggested a possible move to Brazil’s top club Flamengo, but Isco’s aides have strongly denied it.
Meanwhile, Isco is working from home with his fitness trainer, waiting for the phone to ring.
It all depends on what proposals emerge by the summer and on the patience of the man who turns 31 next month. Sources close to Isco, who wished to remain anonymous, said he still wants to play in the Europa League.
However, that MLS option doesn’t seem to be ruled out.
(Photo above: Fran Santiago/Getty Images)