There was a point not so long ago at which it seemed that Isco was as good as finished as a Real Madrid player, at least as long as Zinedine Zidane was at the club. Indeed, the playmaker was a peripheral figure over the early part of the season. Even as injuries struck Real Madrid hard, the likes of James Rodriguez were preferred.
But then Isco was surprisingly dropped into the lineup to face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League a few weeks ago and he took the opportunity with both hands. The 27-year-old impressed against the French champions and played a key role in what was, until a late collapse, a strong Real Madrid performance.
This has proved to be a watershed moment for Isco. Since then the playmaker has been heavily involved for Real Madrid, even starting in the 0-0 draw against Barcelona at the Camp Nou this week. Injury to Eden Hazard might have been a factor in this decision, but Zidane still wouldn’t have turned to him just a few weeks ago.
Isco has been something of an enigma over the course of his Real Madrid career. At various points he has been considered the future of the Santiago Bernabeu club, but has never managed to string together a series of consistent performers to justify that tag. His talent has never been in doubt, but it’s too often fleeting in its appearance.
Recent performances suggest Isco may have turned a corner, though. Real Madrid are in the midst of a title race at the top of La Liga, with a Champions League last 16 tie against Manchester City also looming in the new year, and the 27-year-old might prove to be an important figure in that contest against Barcelona. Isco might not be in Zidane’s favoured lineup, especially once injuries clear up, but he still has a role to play for the capital club.
With January approaching Isco looks set to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu rather than making the move to the Premier League or Serie A, as looked likely not so long ago. Arsenal, who are seemingly linked with Isco year after year, will be disappointed. But others’ loss is Real Madrid’s gain as they have the player back who has prompted many to proclaim him the future of the club.
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