In the grand scheme of things, Real Madrid’s home defeat to CSKA Moscow meant little. For the defending European champions, it was a dead rubber. It might have been humiliating to be so comprehensively dismantled by inferior opposition on their own patch, but Real’s place in the last 16 of the Champions League had already been secured. For one player, though, it was a breaking point.
Having been booed and jeered all night long, Isco snapped. He mouthed ‘what do you want?’ to the notoriously tough to please Santiago Bernabeu crowd, raising his arms in complete and utter exasperation. This reaction had been building for quite some time. Given all that the playmaker has faced this season, it was always likely that he would give some back.
Isco has been a peripheral figure for Santiago Solari since he took over from Julen Lopetegui. Lopetegui wanted to build his Real Madrid team around Isco given the success he enjoyed using the playmaker in his Spain team in the build up to the World Cup. Solari, though, hasn’t been so keen on the 26-year-old, who has spent the past few weeks on the bench.
Even when Isco has been given game time, he has underwhelmed. He has the look of a player who has given up. Speculation continues to build over his future at Real Madrid, with a move to the Premier League frequently mooted. Manchester City are reportedly interested. It’s becoming harder to envisage how Isco will turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu.
A fresh start might be what he needs. Isco wasn’t the most natural of signings for Real Madrid back when he joined from Malaga in 2013. He was a different sort of player to the kind they were used to at the Santiago Bernabeu at that time, but his arrival was meant to herald a new age for the capital giants.
It hasn’t worked out that way, though, and now it seems that Isco and Real Madrid might be ready for a parting of the ways. At 26, Isco needs to make the most of the next few years. These are supposed to be his peak years and yet he is spending them sat on the bench at the Santiago Bernabeu.
A move to City would surely appeal. Pep Guardiola would know how to get more out of a player like Isco. The Premier League champions could use a wildcard like him in the final third. Guardiola and Isco would be good for each other.
Isco wouldn’t come cheap. Real Madrid would likely look for upwards of £50 million, at least, for the playmaker. Still, at that price there would be plenty of suitors. Isco has his admirers, it’s just that not many of them are currently at the Santiago Bernabeu. It might be time for him to leave them behind for everyone’s good.
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