Things have not gone down the way they were expected to go after December 2012 for Francisco Roman Alcoron Suarez, commonly referred to as Isco, the Golden Boy of Spanish football.
A product of Valencia’s youth system, Isco hit the ground running at Malaga after his 2011 move from Los Che’s B side. Having not been given enough chances to prove his worth in his parent club, Isco was eager to make his case and get under the limelight with little time wasted in between.
Commanding performances in the middle of the park for Malaga and a creative string which often made clear difference on the pitch have quickly earned Isco much desired place under the spotlights, making him one of Europe’s hottest properties.
It was not too long before an official acclaim arrived to support the notion that Malaga had a proper gem in their ranks.
Having beaten the likes of Stephan El Shaarawy and Thibaut Courtois in the run to the prestigious Golden Boy award in 2012, Isco was tipped for stardom. The very next stage in his career and a dream move to Real Madrid only helped him get closer to reaching the very top.
However, four years can be quite a long time in footballing terms and despite he is still 24 years of age, Isco has seen both highs and lows of the professional game.
With a €30 million price tag slapped on his back, Isco was welcomed to Santiago Bernabeu’s hyper-intense world where every move, word or look is scrutinised like nowhere else in the world with great hype.
The first signing of Carlo Ancelotti’s era gained his footing at Real Maidrd straight on – claiming an assist and scoring a winner in a 2-1 home win over Real Betis – which marked his official debut for Los Blancos.
With only four La Liga appearances and just 2 starts this season to his name, Isco’s stocks have seen a dramatic decrease in just three years’ time however and Real Betis once again stand as Isco’s chance of making a symbolic return to grace and Zinedine Zidane’s favour as Los Blancos head into the Saturday’s clash at Estadio Benito Villamarin with 10/11 betting odds to claim a HT/FT win over Los Beticos.
Out of favour Isco will be given a rare chance to impress with Zidane’s preferred choices all ruled out with injuries and the 24-year-old Spanish international is well aware of the pressure that rests upon his shoulders.
Isco started the season with an injury of his own which prevented him from making an impact in the squad towards the end of August.
The apparent loss in confidence from Zinedine Zidane has been of great influence as Isco stands as a player with the fourth lowest amount of minutes played this term (207) with only Mariano (13), Coentrao (0) and third goalkeeper Yanez (0) behind him.
Having missed his chance to stake his claim on the starting berth against Eibar before the international break, Isco is likely to be given perhaps the last chance of convincing Zinedine Zidane of his ability.
Once the fan favourite, Isco is currently struggling with lack of match fitness, lack of support from the stands and apparent lack of self-belief.
The fact Isco missed out on Euro 2016 finals with former boss Vicente del Bosque choosing not to select him for the showpiece in France was another heavy burden for the midfielder, but Isco returned to the fold with new head coach Julen Lopetegui, whose unconditional trust for the player might hopefully end up pushing his career forward.
Twelve minutes against Albania might not sound much, but Isco could have perhaps used this 2018 World Cup Qualifier cameo to build confidence to help him get back to form.
The 24-year-old midfielder is well aware of his current situation and is ready to quit Real Madrid for pastures greener. The player of his calibre will not lack options and couple of club are already lining up behind him.
Serie A champions Juventus are believed to be eyeing the talented playmaker, but the Premier League side Tottenham are believed to have already enquired about the Spaniard with Mauricio Pochettino thought to be a big admirer of the 24-year-old.
Isco’s contract runs down in 2018, but Real Madrid are unlikely to let him leave on permanent basis at this point and Spurs are believed to be exploring a loan option, with an obligation to buy.
The Spanish international is a down-to-earth football professional who is under no illusions over his current situation. Isco refused to blame Zinedine Zidane for his lack of minutes and will use every chance he gets to return to grace before eventually deciding to cut ties with his beloved club.
Real Betis once again stand at the crossroads of Isco’s career, but which turn will it make?