He could be the heir to Xavi’s throne as the king of the Roja’s midfield and the hottest property in the transfer market this summer. His club are in the quarter-finals of the Champions’ League - in no small way thanks to a wonderfully adept goal of his against Porto in the round of sixteen. He signed a new contract in January with a buyout clause set at some £30million pounds; designed to deter potential suitors. His name is Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez, but is more widely known as Isco, and English clubs will be at the head of those queuing to persuade him to join them in the summer.
Isco may be somewhat be less familiar to English fans than many of the more celebrated names of La Liga, but rest assured his ability and prodigious talent will not have slipped under the radar of the the top clubs’ scouting regimes. Playing for Malaga, he gets much less television airtime than the high-flying stars of Barcelona and Real Madrid, and securing a place as a central midfielder in Spain’s national team isn’t the easiest task in the world. Just ask Chelsea’s Juan Mata. One of the brightest stars of the Premier League, the little playmaker has difficulty getting a consistent place in the squads, let alone the starting eleven. Make no mistake however, how ever low his current profile, Isco is a star in the making.
The 20 year old was linked with a bid from Arsenal in January, but Malaga moved swiftly to tie up the immediate future of the player by agreeing a new contract with the buyout clause in place. Although perhaps designed to put possible bidders off, all in fact it did was to fix the maximum price that a prospective buyer would have to pay.
Given Arsenal’s reluctance to fork out on the big buys, the clause may well have succeeded with regard to their aspirations. It would be a major departure from Arsene Wenger’s penchant for prudence to be so lavish with the club’s lucre. There are however other Premier League clubs who may be less reluctant. For once, this may not include Chelsea. Already well served in that department with the aforementioned Mata, the rapidly maturing Oscar and the blossoming Hazard, there are only so many ‘number tens’ that you can fit into a squad. Arsenal’s north London rivals, Spurs, however will have a keen interest. Their midfield retains plenty of endeavour, but neither Mousa Dembele or Gylfi Sigurosson appear to have the craft to fill the gap left by the departed Croatian, Luca Modric. Isco may well be the answer. Whether the shrewd Daniel Levy would countenance such a purchase is perhaps another matter, and Isco’s serious suitors may come from a northern city rather than north London.
Manchester City could certainly never be accused of lacking the will to dish out the dosh, and adding the young Isco to play alongside the gifted David Silva could be a shrewd move. Samir Nasri has been somewhat of a disappointment, and currently finds himself unable to command a regular starting berth. A summer move to PSG could suit all parties. Whether Mancini stays or goes in the summer, an overhaul of the squad is very much in prospect to ensure a more balanced race with city rivals United next season. Speaking of United, it would be no major surprise if they too had an interest in Isco. Although Cleverley still has potential to develop, he remains short of the finished article, and with Paul Scholes likely to re-hang up his boots after this season, and Anderson only a fluctuating presence, a place alongside Michael Carrick in the United engine room could be vacant. Red could be the colour for Isco.
It may be that a level-headed approach will prevail and it’s certainly true that another season playing with Malaga, in the Andalucian sunshine may be of enormous benefit to the Spaniard’s long-term development. It’s highly likely however that a large wad of cash will be waved under the noses of club, player and agent this summer, and for all of benefits of a southern Spanish climate, a more rainy northern English city may well beckon for Isco.