Isco: Everything Chelsea Fans Need To Know About The Next Juan Mata
Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez or Isco as he is better known has been central to Malaga's success this season; but don't bet on him staying past the summer.
Malaga had seemed on the rise in a similar fashion to Manchester City or PSG with their steady development from mid-table nobodies to Champions League qualifiers last season after a more than €50m investment last summer. Yet it appears there is a bottom to the pit of cash Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nassar Al-Thanipromised when he took over in 2010 and they had to sell frantically just to be able to take their place in La Liga this season as new rules prevent clubs owing money in player wages or overdue transfer fees from competing.
Isco was the embodiment of the planned steady development. The 20-year-old prodigy plucked from Valencia’s youth system for €6m last year was a regular for the final two thirds of last season and was such a revelation that he made the provisional Spanish squad before last summer’s European Championships.
For an English audience his style most closely reflects that of David Silva
Although he was never a serious candidate to go to Poland and Ukraine given the array of midfield talent on offer to Vicente del Bosque, big things were expected of he and his teammates as the majority of the side that guided Spain to the U-21 European Championships travelled to the UK for the Olympics. Unfortunately, Isco’s new shaven headed look symbolised an unrecognisable Spanish side whose Olympic adventure was cut short after only two games following defeats to Japan and Honduras.
However, he does very much fit the mould when it comes to the demand for Spanish creative midfielders. For an English audience his style most closely reflects that of David Silva, although in contrast to the Manchester City playmaker he is predominantly right-footed, and his record of eleven goals and four assists this season would indicate a similar ability to both score and create.
Again, though, in a similar vein to Silva should Isco make the transition to the Premier League he may take at least a year to assimilate to the pace and physicality of play in England. Like most playmakers he shields the ball very well from the opposition in the final third, but whilst almost any contact without playing the ball perfectly in Spain will be rewarded with a free-kick a more lenient attitude from the referees in England will almost certainly hamper Isco’s ability to unlock defences.
The question also remains as to where would be a suitable destination? Man City appear to be front runners as they look to bolster attacking options in a bid to win back the Premier League trophy from neighbours Man United.
Should Isco leave Malaga for foreign shores in the next few weeks it will signal another nail in the coffin for the competitive balance in Spanish football
London would appear an equally suitable destination. The combination between Isco and Santi Cazorla was what dragged Malaga into the top-four last season and with the latter already settled at the Gunners it would make sense for Arsene Wenger to try and reunite them once more, particularly given the Frenchman’s penchant for small technical players like Isco in the past.
Chelsea meanwhile appear to be building an army of creative midfielders and the former Valencia man could be an ideal complement to Juan Mata, Marko Marin, Eden Hazard, Oscar and the rest. Liverpool, despite being relatively well stocked in midfield are aware that a long-term Gerrard replacement will need to be found and, even with the form of Jonjo Shelvey, would be a good home for Isco due to Brendan Rodgers desire to play a Spanish style.
No matter where the destination though should Isco leave Malaga for foreign shores it will signal another nail in the coffin for the competitive balance in Spanish football.
As the big two have move further away from the pack in recent times the trend has been set for the best of the rest to either move to Real Madrid, Barcelona or to England. Sergio Ramos, Raul Albiol and Jose Maria Callejon have gone to the capital; Dani Alves, David Villa and Jordi Alba to Calalonia and Mata, Silva, Sergio Agüero, Cazorla and David De Gea to Chelsea, City, Arsenal and United respectively.
Spanish football’s success in recent years has come from producing Iscos. The fear is it is now only feeding two local behemoths and a foreign hunting pack ready to scoop up the leftovers.
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