Zinedine Zidane is looking for more energy in the centre of Real Madrid‘s midfield, and the return of Isco could help, but most likely not in terms of energy.
Thirteen months ago, Isco was on top of the world. At just 26 years old, he had won four Champions Leagues, four Club World Cups, three European Super Cups and one LaLiga Santander title in six seasons at Real Madrid. He, along with Marco Asensio, was seen as the future of Los Blancos.
Isco immediately became a huge part of Julen Lopetegui‘s project after taking over at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, getting on the scoresheet in a 3-0 win over Roma on September 19, 2018, after having played a pivotal part in Spain‘s 6-0 demolition of Croatia, the World Cup runners-up, the previous week.
But suddenly, on September 25, 2018, the playmaker has appendicitis surgery and since then, Isco has not hit the same heights.
Last Saturday, October 5, Isco returned after 40 days out with a femoral biceps muscle injury and, despite the maelstrom that surrounded the big clubs, there has been little attention drawn to the dynamism that Real Madrid have been missing.
In fact, the footballer that Barcelona tempted two years ago with an offer to not renew his contract has had to deal with anonymity and a lack of importance.
During Santiago Solari‘s spell in charge of Los Blancos, the former Malaga star was highlighted as being the reason behind the club’s underwhelming campaign, despite many other players not performing to the level expected of them.
That frustration boiled over in a match against CSKA Moscow at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in December 2018, when Isco responded to whistles from the crowd by asking, ‘what do you want?’
Now that he is available again, it is unknown which role Zinedine Zidane will give him. During the Frenchman’s second spell in charge, Isco has been the 15th most used footballer, starting in half of the 14 matches played.
Equipped with an unparalleled ability on the ball and the skill to get past players in one-on-one situations, Isco‘s ideal place on the pitch has always been up for discussion because his position has directly affected his performance.
He can open up spaces against a defence that is sitting deep by playing near the opposition area and linking up with the forwards, however Zidane prefers to use him as a midfielder, a position in which his lack of speed and tendency to dribble excessively slows down Real Madrid‘s game.
Isco is a footballer of undisputed quality, although it is not always as clear as it should be, depending on what position he is deployed in.
The slowness of the playmaker to start moves from his own half comes in clear contradiction with the dynamism Zidane is looking for in midfield, which is symbolised by the emergence of Fede Valverde.
The intensity demanded by the French coach contradicts the skillset that Isco possesses, a player who plays a different style of football when 60 metres away from goal to what Zidane wants.
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