Isco And Real Madrid's Depth

Stuart Franklin

With Mesut Özil, Luka Modric and Kaká in the roster, it could seem that Real Madrid don't need any more playmakers. And that might be true, but attacking midfielder Isco Alarcón can perform in both right and left wing and also in the center, where he feels more comfortable. He will add youth and depth to a Real Madrid roster that needed some answers when Di María or Benzema weren't playing particularly well.

Real Madrid will likely complete the signing of Isco this very same week. The young attacking midfielder was one of the reasons why Málaga's Champions League campaign was so successful. Isco's performances throughout the Group Stage made him the winner of the Golden Boy Award, given to the best U21 player in Europe. It is always hard to adapt to one of the biggest powerhouses in European football, but Isco definitely has the quality to be a very important player in Real Madrid's near future.

Isco (Francisco Alarcón is his official name) turned 21 this past April. He's from Andalucía, but he joined Valencia's Academy when he was only 14 years old. Isco hoped to stay there and be one of Valencia's greatest players, but Unai Emery didn't give him many chances and Málaga's owner Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani payed his 6M€ release clause and brought him back South. Emery later pointed out in his biography that Isco tends to gain weight quite easily, while the player said in an interview that the coach never supported him.

In his first season with Málaga, Isco proved some Valencia fans wrong as he played 32 Liga matches scoring 5 goals and delivering 5 assists as well. This season, he's scored 9 goals and given four assists in 37 matches. While the numbers are certainly not that impressive, Isco's qualities are well beyond statistics. It should also be noted that it is not the same to pass the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema and Higuaín than trying to give it to Roque Santa Cruz or Saviola, with all due respect to Málaga and his squad. That should mean that Isco's numbers should grow with ease in Real Madrid's uniform.

As we stated above, Isco can play in both wings, but he's more suited to play in the center, in Özil's current position. It is true that he played on the left for Málaga these two seasons, but he will not be able to do so in Real Madrid if Ancelotti keeps deploying Cristiano Ronaldo on the left as it is expected. He will have to fight for his spot against the streaky Mesut Özil and the even more streaky Ángel Di María. Again, he might not have the quality to improve Mesut Özil's best performances now, but he has a lot of room to improve. Real Madrid fans should take this guy seriously.

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via 24.media.tumblr.com

As you can see in the image, Isco could be Real Madrid's second best dribbler already, and that's something the team needs desperately. Cristiano Ronaldo is not that kind of a player anymore and Di María seems to choose wrong everytime, so it will be very interesting to have a player capable of dribbling two or three opponents in the same play. That's a good way of breaking down tight defensive lines that Real Madrid was lacking this past season.

Isco will need some time before knowing his teammates' moves and how they behave on the pitch, and that's why it will be very positive for Real Madrid to have him throughout the whole preseason to avoid a similar situation to the one Modric experienced in his first months with the club.

If Di María is to leave Real Madrid, Isco is not that kind of player. He is not as fast as El Fideo and he certainly doesn't work as much when the team loses the ball (mainly because Di María might have no match there). Isco can play on the wing, but he's not a winger. He is an Özil-kind of player, but maybe Ancelotti will not need pure wingers on the roster with Jesé being able of playing in that role (even though he is a second striker like Cristiano Ronaldo now).

One thing is for sure, Isco is not only a prospect anymore. He already is capable of making the starting lineup week in and week out. Last, but not least, Mesut Özil will finally have competition in the attacking midfielder spot. Some might say that the German's streaky game has something to do with the lack of fight for his spot. Kaká is no real match for what Özil can bring to the table anymore and Isco will now force him to take his game to the next level every week. Isco is not better than Özil now, but he has the potential to surpass him in the next few seasons.

Expect the brightest of the futures out of this young player. All he has to do is live up to his potential.

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