Ignore all of the Gareth Bale hyperbole, the stand-out signing for Real Madrid this summer was 21 year-old Isco. The diminutive playmaker has been a revelation since signing from Malaga for roughly 1/3 of Bale’s transfer fee but has eclipsed even Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu so far this season.
He’s so far managed 5 goals in his first 8 games for Madrid, just one less than Ronaldo at this point in the season with both contributing the same number of assists. But Isco didn’t join to provide competition for Ronaldo – he came to revolutionise an ageing midfield with the Spanish flair introduced so brilliantly by Barcelona. Already we’ve seen glimpses of play that is set to dazzle the Bernabeu crowd for years to come but Isco’s growing maturity must be harnessed at international level soon.
Arguably the form player in world football at the moment, Isco could unbelievably be set to miss a week of football soon with the international break coming up. He, like hundreds of SkyBet Championship players, must make do with skipping a game week and watching their compatriots in action, but Isco is far too good for that. Likely to be named in Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain squad, it is less likely that Isco will be named in the starting line-up despite the wavering form of Fernando Torres, Alvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado and the lack of playing time for Juan Mata and Santo Cazorla.
Instead the usual suspects will be chosen to comfortably win and send Spain to Brazil with zero hassle, something you cannot begrudge the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Barca’s in-form equal, Cesc Fabregas.
Isco has yet to make a competitive appearance for the full Spanish squad, earning just a single cap in a friendly against Uruguay in February. His performances merit an inclusion and could be what Spain need to prove themselves in Brazil at the second time of asking.
Xabi Alonso, Xavi and Iniesta’s international futures are beginning to close and Spain need to herald in their new central midfielders before the retirements begin. Isco, Illarramendi and maybe even Olivier Torres need to be ushered into the squad in the coming years as they develop into world class players. Spain cannot afford to rely on their old guard for too long having been comprehensively dispatched by Brazil in July.
The World Cup in 2014 may be too far off for Illarra and Torres but Isco could certainly be used as Spain’s surprise package. With Fabregas evolving into an assists magician, Isco has begun to mature into a goalscoring playmaker in the mould of Steven Gerrard. He, like Fabregas, will play the tidy short passes but he’s developed a real knack for finishing moves off. He managed 10 goals for Malaga last year and 3 of his 5 for Real have been match-winners.
His importance to Real Madrid has been undervalued due to the emergence of Luka Modric, Bale’s arrival, Ronaldo’s hat-trick and Mesut Ozil’s scruffy departure, but Isco has been ‘the’ player who has given Madrid fans real optimism during an underwhelming beginning to the season.
Therefore Isco’s importance to Spain cannot be left for another tournament. Spain must react within the next few months to integrate Isco into the team and develop him into a weapon. Del Bosque cannot rely on arrogance and change little and then endure the same result as the Brazil thrashing. Spain’s recent play has been styled around the evolution of beautiful football and they must consequently be prepared to evolve their own methods.
Isco’s stats speak volumes – he’s alongside the greats of modern day Spanish football and deserves his chance to become one himself.