Isco is quickly becoming one of the most sought after players in the footballing world. Some of the top clubs of Europe continue to chase his signature. Recently it was revealed that he rejected an offer in the summer from Spanish giants, Barcelona, and preferred to stay at the La Rosaleda.
Born in the Andalucian city of Malaga, Isco opted to move to Valencia and is a product of Valencia CF’s academy. Unai Emery had handed Isco his first team debut and many fans saw him as the long awaited replacement for David Silva. He failed to stake any sort of claim with the Los Che making only 7 appearances for the first team in all competitions. He did however manage to score a brace on his debut for the club in the Copa Del Rey, he was just 18 years old at the time. But he spent most of his time in Valencia with the B team where he constantly showcased his growing abilities.
Isco’s big break arrived when he joined the high spending revolution of Malaga in a move worth a mere €6 million, as they met his release clause. Malaga showed their belief in the abilities of young Isco signing him in the summer of 2011. He was one of 10 new players that arrived at the club including the likes of Cazorla, Nistelrooy and Joaquin, as Malaga looked to secure European football (and eventually succeeded in doing so).
He made a total of 35 appearance in all competitions for Malaga in his debut season, with a decent return of 5 goals. The downside though was that over the course of the La Liga season, he received 2 red cards an 7 yellows. Malaga though were successful in reaching the UEFA Champions League for the first time ever as they beat off the rest of the competition to secure a 4th place finish. Isco played a big part in this success along with fellow Spaniard, Santi Cazorla. His exploits with his club were rewarded with a call-up to the Spain’s senior squad for two warm-up games ahead of the Euros, however he failed to make an appearance and is yet to be capped for his country.
Although he made a fair number of appearance at Malaga in his first season, he rose to prominence and made the world take note only in his second season (12/13 season). Santi Cazorla’s sale to Arsenal in the summer opened up an opportunity for Isco, and Pelligrini has seen him as a direct replacement for the former. He took just 3 minutes to score his, and Malaga’s first ever Champions League goal against Zenit St. Petersburg. He scored another in that game as Malaga ran out 3-0 winners. He has scored 4 more goals this current campaign including one against his former club, Valencia in a thumping 4-0 victory, while also scoring in a famous 3-2 victory over defending champions Real Madrid.
Recently Isco was recognised as the best young footballer in the world by Italian newspaper, Tuttosport, as they presented him with the Golden Boy award which is given to the best footballer below the age of 21, beating off competition from El Shaaraway and Courtois. It is one of the most prestigious awards in world football . Previous winners include Messi, Rooney, Aguero, Fabregas etc. Last year the award was presented to Mario Götze, and we’ve done a scout report on him as well, click here to view. Isco was also one of 100 players named on In Bed With Maradona’s list of top 100 young footballers in the world. Click here to view the list.
With a world class midfield contingent existing already in the national team, even a player of Isco’s ability will struggle to break the winning formula devised by coach Del Bosque. But a senior cap for the Andalusian born midfielder is on the horizon. Isco has, nevertheless, appeared for 7 different Spanish youth teams, including appearances in both the FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cups where he played a prominent role.
Style, Strengths and Weaknesses
Francisco is a player who can be best utilised in an attacking midfield position. It is more specifically called the trequartista role. He is deployed primarily in between the final third and the central midfielders. His job is to connect the rest of the team with the attacking third. Having said that, he can be employed in wider areas as well. He wouldn’t make too many runs down the channels, but would cut inside into his more natural role.
Such a role requires impeccable technical ability and Isco has an abundance of this. He fits the role quite superbly. He has terrific vision to pick out a pass and often his balls crucially unlock defences. His range of passing is another positive as he has no qualms in playing the neat touches while also being able to play long balls. The Malaga man is not shy of taking a shot and often has an eye for goal. He has a wide range of shooting ability, making attempts from outside of the box while also penetrating forward with the ball at his feet. And this is another ability that Isco possesses, he is a craftsman with the ball at his feet and can skip past the oppositiong swiftly and smoothly, being blessed with the ability to dribble with the ball which is seen essentially in wingers.
As is necessarily with any trequartista (or playmaker), Isco is required to be composed on the ball, even around the box. He has to ensure that he picks out the right pass and often holds the ball up to allow those ahead of him to move into meaningful positions and also allow the rest of the team to take control of attacking avenues.
At 5 ft 9in, one could say that he would fare poorly in aerial battles, but then again he plays in a position that doesn’t often require aerial duels. It is a drawback, which is why Isco prefers the ball at his feet rather than above him. Being played in attacking areas for much of his career, Isco has little to offer on the defensive side of the game. Quite often when the team is faced against an attack, Isco goes invisible and is not able to contribute enough. He just needs more experience and as he matures, this side of his game will improve further as he becomes a smarter footballer. It has been seen this season that Isco regularly tracks back, and this is a small indication of his improving maturity.
Nearly every top clubs in Europe is now chasing the signature of highly rated Isco. The world has finally taken notice of this wonderful talent, who not too long ago was playing in the lower leagues of Spanish football. It was reported that Barcelona were interested in making a move for Isco last summer, but his father (who is his agent as well) suggested that he remain at Malaga CF and take full advantage of the first team opportunities. He currently has a contract that runs until 2016. If any club does decide to make a move for him, he won’t go on the cheap.
Potential suitors will be motivated by Malaga’s financial difficulties that has seen them sell star players, Cazorla and Rondon. Added to that, Malaga are one of the first clubs to feel the effects of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play plan that has seen the La Liga club banned from European competitions should they qualify for any, in the next four years. Isco may therefore be tempted by any Champions League club willing to make a move for him.
It is unlikely though that Isco will be looking to leave the club this season. Malaga are into the Round of 16 of the Champions League in their debut season. At the halfway point of the campaign, Malaga are just 2 points off 3rd spot and look set for a strong league finish. These two factors will convince Isco to spend atleast the remainded of the 12/13 season in Andalusia, if not beyond.
UPDATE: Isco has joined Real Madrid.
Featurd image via footballcantera.com