The first time Isco stepped onto the Bernabéu in a Real Madrid shirt, he was welcomed as a hero. The reception was surprising in such a circumspect stadium on a day-to-day basis, but the youngsters that were rejuvenating the venue that night in August 2013 cradled him since he appeared at La Castellana. The man from Malaga offered three qualities highly appreciated by the public on that day: 21 years old, Spanish and a touch footballer; and he reciprocated in his debut by heading the winning goal against Betis in the 86th minute. That light that radiated from the first moment drove him for five years and led him after several frustrations to the title in the white team and even become a philosopher’s stone of the Spanish team. However, there is not much left of that glow in Chamartín. His last two seasons draw a clearly downward line.
The last critical week of Madrid has shown it in a very obvious way, and very cruel for him. While the veterans once again exhibited their hierarchy to keep the team and Zidane on their feet, Isco’s hair was barely visible. He did not play a minute against Sevilla, Mönchengladbach and Atlético, and only appeared in the last half hour against Athletic, without much trace. The midfielder, along with Marcelo, are the only two members of the French coach’s old guard who have fallen off the pedestal.
His participation this season is reduced to 345 minutes (three starts in 19 games), 20% of the total, with a result of zero goals and zero assists. Although worse than the absolute figures are the relative ones. Accustomed to conserving his share of leadership on the designated days – last year he was in the eleven against PSG, City, Atlético, the two classics and the Super Cup – this campaign has disappeared from the key days. To his absence in the three crashes of the previous week we must add that of the Camp Nou and that of the Champions League almost completely. In the entire group stage, they only played 13 meager minutes in Kiev against Shakhtar.
Disappearance with Spain
He has another year of contract left, until 2022, and the possibility of it coming out in the next winter market is on the table, although the economic operation does not seem easy, especially at this time of pandemic. Some colleagues perceive in him symptoms of disconnection with the intensity of the group and his gestural language on the grass gives off exhaustion. Now it is difficult to identify in Isco, at 28 years old, that footballer who during the first steps in Madrid rebelled for not enjoying a starting status, as when in 2015, in the midst of the absolute happiness of the Bernabéu after eliminating in Europe to Atlético with a bit of agony, he publicly twisted the gesture due to his personal situation.
Zidane continues to dedicate words of appreciation to him, something he does not do with everyone; for example, with the youngest. “It is going to be important. It is true that lately he is not participating much, I do not give him the opportunity to show the player that he is. But they are specific moments. I feel sorry for my players, I love them very much. I will never forget what I have experienced with them. What he has to do is work hard to have another chance, “he commented last Monday, before taking on Athletic. Then, when it came time for sports decisions, the white coach preferred Valverde, fresh from an injury, for a position in a midfield where Casemiro was missing. The last time the man from Malaga appeared in an eleven was at the Mestalla, a month and a half ago, on a night of general disaster (4-1) that confirmed his particular blackout. This Sunday the trip to Eibar awaits him (21.00, Movistar LaLiga).
Its status reached its peak in 2018. Zizou gave him a fixed position in Madrid to the detriment of Bale that he pursued so much, and in the World Cup in Russia he completed every minute and became a great reference for Spain’s attack. 2019, however, marked the beginning of a slow reversal. Solari – with whom he had a stormy relationship, including disciplinary proceedings – sent him to the storage room and, although ZZ spoiled him on his return to the Bernabéu, his football did not finish recovering the lost flight. The crisis also moved to the national team, with which he played his last minutes a year and a half ago. There are a few months left for the European Championship and, right now, the name of Isco, which Luis Enrique had a lot of at the beginning, sounds more like the past than the future.
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