There comes a time in certain players’ careers when their environment can no longer facilitate their growth. It can be a delicate situation and a big decision for the player in particular. There’s always the risk of going too big too soon and then disappearing into obscurity after failing to cope with the demands that come with a hefty price tag. However, in other cases, it’s essential to strike while the iron is hot and it would seem as though Isco’s situation fits into that category.
The young Spaniard is one of the most sought-after talents in Europe at present with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City eager to avail of his services while rumours of Borussia Dortmund’s interest have also emerged after they lost Mario Gotze to Bayern Munich. The fact that the 21 year old has attracted such high-profile suitors comes as no surprise.
After coming through the ranks at Valencia, Malaga triggered his €6 million release clause to bring him to La Rosaleda. He enjoyed a successful first season with his new team as they earned a Champions League spot. However, with the club in financial turmoil, they could no longer afford to keep Santi Cazorla and so Isco took center stage.
Remarkably, he blossomed under the pressure of assuming the responsibilities of a player seven years his senior and was instrumental in Malaga’s respectable finish in the lead and relatively impressive Champions League campaign. He was also the club’s top scorer in La Liga with nine goals. To add to it, he was named the La Liga Breakthrough player in 2012 and was also voted the Golden Boy by sports journalists in Europe that year.
Isco | Another Juan Mata in the making?
His European Championship success with the Spanish U-21s this month has only seen his stock rise and accolades pile up. He was voted player of the tournament and was awarded the Bronze Boot, scoring three goals including one in the final against Italy. However, it was his overall play that grabbed the attention of spectators and potential suitors alike. His quick short passing, dribbling, vision and eye for goal set him apart.
As it turns out, Isco’s current state of affairs bears an uncanny resemblance to that of another former Spain U-21 star, Juan Mata. Having started his senior career with Real Madrid B, it was at Isco’s former club where Mata made a name for himself. Like the Malaga man, Mata made quite an impression in the 2011 edition of the U-21 European Championship.
At the risk of turning this ‘uncanny’ resemblance into one that’s downright ‘spooky’, here are another couple of facts to consider – Mata was also named the Player of the Tournament and won the Bronze Boot as well. It was that summer that Mata made the big step up to Chelsea and has since gone on to be named their Player of the Season twice in a row.
Mata’s ability was never in question but it’s only when he signed for Chelsea that he truly rose to stardom. Isco has two concrete offers on the table from Manchester City and Real Madrid as he’s reiterated himself.
While the luxury of staying in Spain and playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world is alluring, the youngster may find it difficult to secure a regular starting berth with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria, Luka Modric and possibly even Gareth Bale to contend with.
At City | The advantage of Pellegrini
However, his chances of playing week in and week out in the blue half of Manchester are significantly higher especially thanks to Manuel Pellegrini’s appointment at the Etihad Stadium. The former Malaga manager oversaw much of Isco’s development and is perhaps most equipped to get the most out of the Spaniard.
Despite the signing of Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri’s dip in form over the past season could ensure Isco’s place in the starting line-up. There’s little doubt over his compatibility with City’s style of play and he should enjoy linking up with the likes of David Silva and Sergio Aguero in particular.
With the wealth of experience Isco gained this season courtesy of an inspiring Champions League run with Malaga and winning the U-21 European Championship, there shouldn’t be any doubt over his capacity to handle the demands and pressure that go with playing for a big Premier League club.
Perhaps one of the most defining aspects of the greatest careers is the amount of silverware acquired along the way. Players like Silva and Aguero were already class acts but their moves to City and their subsequent success have made them the iconic figures they are today.
At this moment in time, Isco is on the cusp of greatness and all he needs is the right club to help him fulfill his potential. He needs to play at the highest level on a regular basis and win the most sought after trophies in the process. He’s already an outstanding talent but winning trophies would take him to the next level. He’s a phenomenal talent at present but the right move could transform him into the superstar he’s destined to be.
|Will Isco fulfill his potential at a big club? Send in your thoughts in the comments below or discuss with the writer on Twitter @BrendonNetto.|
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