With the long-term plans of the Spain international perceivably lying away from Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid, Isco’s future has been a hot talking point over recent games, weeks and months.
Los Blancos flattered themselves with a 3-0 scoreline this weekend, with plucky Alaves not deserving of a result which made it seem as though they were comfortably second-best at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu – but Isco made the difference.
This season, Real Madrid have been many things. They have scraped unlikely results, shown incredible mental strength and resilience to battle over the line to earn much-needed three points.
Zidane has bred chemistry within a high-maintenance group, and while they haven’t shown a definite identity or philosophy, they have lead by example in LaLiga and accordingly find themselves top.
Often, it has seemed as though the league leaders’ system has been dictated to Zidane, owing solely to the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale in the Frenchman’s squad.
All three are too good and high-profile to leave on the fringes, with Real Madrid’s 4-3-3 making it tough to balance out the rest of the side.
Regular usage of overlapping full-backs to whip in countless crosses has left Real Madrid one-dimensional at times, with teams such as Alaves seeking to congest the penalty area and exploit gaps on the counter attack.
Isco is the maverick, the flair player and the joker in the pack.
He has shown his readiness to play on the flanks of a four-man midfield, or as the left-sided midfielder in a 4-3-3. His skill set allows him to carry possession at pace, with his vision aiding the picking apart of teams who have set up shop to frustrate a cross-heavy Real side.
However, neither of these roles allow for true freedom for the 24-year-old. Zidane has struggled to put together a true identity with his side. Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the players to score the important goals and capture the imagination of the fanbase, with smattering of praise for Casemiro, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Benzema thrown into the mix.
Both Isco and James Rodriguez have suffered as a result.
Those players were the expression and creative heartbeat within past teams, but haven’t been attributed with this same level of responsibility since joining Real Madrid.
Zidane has spoken out about his willingness to renew Isco’s deal – but the real bargaining should lie away from the financial details.
The Frenchman has been successful at the helm early in his managerial career, as was Luis Enrique at Barcelona. Once you manage to get a team winning, the goalposts shift.
It becomes a question of how you win, with the whistles at the Bernabeu on Sunday highlighting this very fact. Isco looks to be the most important piece of this particular puzzle.
For the last year or two, there has been no true place for Isco and James at Real Madrid. Their specialism isn’t required.
BBC have reigned supreme and left no need to spot any kind of void where the number 10 would normally operate. As the Spain international popped up with another important goal this weekend, however, this fact is becoming harder to ignore.
There should be a future for a player such as Isco at a place like Real.
The diminutive midfielder is supremely technically gifted and has a connection to the club that fans adore. He has the ability to etch his name in the history books.
LaLiga and Champions League titles this season look to be well within the realms of possibility for Zidane’s squad – but it might be apt to look beyond May already.
In Isco, Real have the potential to build around a talented number 10 who is yet to hit the height of his powers. Often this season Los Blancos have been predictable, yet effective.
Once this becomes tiresome, having players of his ilk on the bench regularly will become a source of frustration in itself.
Real’s second goal in their 3-0 win over Alaves was started and finished by Isco.
His growing importance in a busy fixture schedule only points in one direction – he should be the chief creator and lead conductor for many more years to come.