Isco: Player Profile

Madrid’s Dazzling Isco Set For The Big Stage

Personal information

Full name: Francisco Roman Alarcon Suarez
Date of birth: 21 April 1992, age 21
Place of birth: Benalmadena, Spain
Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position: Attacking midfielder

Club information
Current club: Real Madrid 
Number: 23

Youth career
2006–2009: Valencia 

Senior career
2009–2011 Valencia B 52 Appearances, 16 goals
2010–2011 Valencia 7 Appearances, 2 goals
2011–2013 Malaga 82 Appearances, 17 goals
2013– Real Madrid 11 Appearances, 5 goals

National team
2008 Spain U16: 3 Appearances, 1 goal
2008–2009 Spain U17 21 Appearances, 6 goals
2010 Spain U18 1 Appearance, 1 goal
2010–2011 Spain U19 12 Appearances, 7 goals
2011 Spain U20 6 Appearances, 1 goal
2011– Spain U21 16 Appearances, 9 goals
2012 Spain U23 5 Appearances, 0 goals
2013– Spain 1 Appearance, 0 goals

Mesut Ozil's absence at Real Madrid has already been felt. However, there is no shortage of talent in the Blancos front line, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Luka Modric.

But without the delicate touch of the German playmaker, Madrid’s attack is lacking the creativity they need to conquer Spain and Europe.

The burden of replacing Ozil, then, will fall on the young shoulders of Francisco Roman Alarcon Suarez, or commonly known as Isco, the nickname with which the forward is rapidly making his name.

At just 5'7" and slightly built, Isco is dwarfed by the likes of Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema. The ex-Malaga star, however, has proven that he is more than ready to make the step up in class, making an excellent start to his Bernabeu career. After 11 games with the club, Isco has already bagged five goals as well as two assists.

He is not a carbon copy of Ozil, one of the few players in the modern age who bring to mind a classic
playmaker. His low centre of gravity, tenacious strength and prodigious feet is the making of a great footballer. And while he does not possess the same physical attributes that make his teammates some of the best competitors in La Liga, his pace and acceleration over short distances make him a terrifying opponent in the final third.

The former Malaga man can play a key role in Real Madrid by balancing the tendency to attack with sheer brute force thereby introducing his own brand of subtle approach play.

If he can continue his excellent start to the season and more importantly consolidate his place among Madrid's bumper cars as a more delicate link between midfield and attack, the loss of Arsenal's record signing may not be felt so acutely around the Bernabeu.

A local Madrid newspaper, Marca are already suggesting he's a contender to be the best No. 10 in the club's history, comparing his start to life at the Bernabeu favourably with that of Mesut Ozil, Kaka, Wesley Sneijder and even Zinedine Zidane before him.

Carlo Ancelotti has even spoke out about the comparisons with his assistant manager, Zidane. I asked Zinedine if he agrees and he said “no, not yet”. But he could be very close in the future.

He is very similar in terms of ability and mentality. For Isco to be compared with Zidane is not bad after the few games he's played.

Being compared to the French midfielder is no small feat, and if the 21-year-old does go onto live up to his potential, there's no reason he won't become one of the best players in the world.

Isco is also a player that likes to show off his skill with his slight frame and magical ability to create space and wriggle into it.

If his start in the Spanish capital is consistent with the rest of the story, then his projected Madrid career could prove startling.

He'll develop into a 15-goal-a-season player, an attribute sometime overlooked when rating No. 10s and La Liga titles, Copa del Reys and Supercopas will surely follow.

Isco worked his way through the youth teams at Valencia until he became a regular feature in the B team in
2009-10. The following season his debut came in the Copa del Rey, yielding two goals in a 4-1 win over UD Logrones.

Despite only making another six appearances for the first team he was widely expected to be Valencia's next big star, what wasn't expected was for him to go the way of David Silva, David Villa and Juan Mata so quickly.

It was a combination of two things which took Isco, 20, to Malaga once they had activated his €6 million buy-out clause. Firstly, Malaga is where the attacking midfielder hails from.

Valencia may have given him his chance in professional football, but to return to the club around where his childhood was spent was a great draw—as it is with many footballers.

Secondly, Los Boquerones had, in 2011, become the third-biggest spenders in La Liga behind the duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Sheikh al-Thani and his money had recently arrived full of promises, while up the coast Valencia had become a selling club struggling to finish the construction of a new stadium.

Isco's first season was one of promise. He worked largely in the shadows of Santi Cazorla, but as Malaga's Champions League challenge strengthened towards the end of the campaign the signs became more apparent than ever of the potential that he possessed. By the end of the season, in Spain at least, everyone knew about Isco and what he could achieve.

Last season was far from straightforward for Malaga. Despite their success on the pitch they continued to fight financial problems and UEFA punishments, although on the back of this, Isco's progress had accelerated.

On 17 June 2013, Isco confirmed that he had received offers from Real Madrid and former Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City, but stated he would only make a final decision on his future after the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final. On 26 June, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez confirmed that a deal had been reached with the player and that he would be presented by the club, once he passed his medical.

The following day he signed a five-year contract, with Real Madrid paying €30 million for his services, thus becoming the first signing of newly appointed manager Carlo Ancelotti.

It's only just getting started, but Isco's spell in the white of Real Madrid has begun in an impressive manner. This weekend Isco will look to prove himself even more on the biggest stage he is yet to feature in, the EL Clasico.