Since last season, a negative narrative has been formed around Isco. There is a perception among many that the Spaniard isn’t the player that he was in the 2017-18 season and earlier.

But it is unfair to see every situation from one perspective. One can’t expect every player to come back strong after not playing regularly.

Isco made 11 starts last season, appearing 16 times from the bench. He could not thrive in Santiago Solari’s rigid and structured system. That was the reason why Solari did not prefer him.

So far this season, Isco has played five times in the La Liga. He is yet to score or assist and many are saying that the magician has lost his spark.

Heavy links with Juventus came last January. Talks with Real and the player’s entourage were held, but the move never materialised. Isco stayed at Real and never got a firm chance to make an impact.

Last month, Calciomercato reported that Juve are still interested in the former Malaga man and they can make another attempt. With Isco still struggling at the Santiago Bernabeu, it is visible why the Bianconeri would want him.

Maurizio Sarri’s possession-based system has sparked a revival in Paulo Dybala’s career already. The Argentine, who was close to moves to Tottenham and Manchester United, was being forced out in the summer.

This season, La Joya has impressed in Sarri’s free-flowing and attacking system. In all competitions, he has scored four times and has assisted twice.

Dybala has been used upfront in a diamond 4-3-1-2 shape. He has played alongside either Cristiano Ronaldo or Gonzalo Higuain, with either Aaron Ramsey or Federico Bernardeschi playing in the hole.

Bernardeschi though has been disappointing. Despite having started the last five Serie A games, he has barely shown any signs of making an impact in the number ten position.

It is crucial to note that Isco’s best at Real Madrid came in a front three, which had Karim Benzema and Ronaldo up front. He has played as the attacking midfielder 108 times at Real, scoring 18 times and assisting 21 times.

Isco even praised Zinedine Zidane for playing him in an advanced position. In an interview back in 2017, he said:

“Zizou [Zidane] has been very important. He’s put me there [in a more advanced role]. I’ve also had to have patience when I didn’t have as many opportunities. But it has always been my idea to stay here and hopefully I do for many years.”

In response to these comments, the Frenchman praised his player back and hailed his ability to play around the forwards(Via AS):

“It’s simple. It’s his natural progression. He knows that he’s an important player for this club; every time ISCO is given the chance to play, he’s better than his last game. He’s also able to play in several different positions – obviously, his best position is when he is close to the forwards.

Zidane’s system was pragmatic. But he gave complete freedom to the front three to move about in the final third.

That is exactly what Sarri is doing at Juve. The likes of Ronaldo, Dybala and Higuain move about fluidly in attack, often dropping deep and further forward the next second. A player like Isco will look at that and lick his lips.

His comments suggest that he really enjoys playing there and it brings the best out of him. Zidane too understands that and sees a bit of himself in the Spaniard.

Sarri has Ronaldo playing upfront and the Portuguese enjoyed a telepathic relationship with Isco at the Bernabeu. With Ronaldo’s movement in attack and the technical abilities of Dybala and Isco in the side, Juve will be next to impossible to stop when they get going.

 

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Kaustubh Pandey

European Football Writer. Featured on Calciomercato, FootballItalia, GetGermanFootballNews, GetFrenchFootballNews, Manchester Evening News, TheseFootballTimes, The Times, Manchester United and more.
Kaustubh Pandey