Isco is back. He is not yet at his peak form, but the Real Madrid midfielder is once again showing that he can be the decisive footballer that shone at Los Blancos prior to Santiago Solari‘s arrival. The return of this Isco is good news for Real Madrid and the Spanish national team.
In three days, the whole outlook on Isco has changed dramatically. He has gone from being ostracized at Real Madrid and with Spain to becoming an important player for Los Merengues, with the playmaker now surely looking ahead to next summer’s European Championship.
There is no doubt that last season was the worst thus far in Isco‘s career. His disagreement with Solari led to him being left out of the squad on a matchday, usually after having travelled with the team, and then altogether.
Naturally, that had an influence on the 27-year-old, but this summer he made sure to return in a better physical condition and he looked much sharper in training. Despite everything, though, he’s had a difficult time returning to something close to top form.
A muscle injury at the start of the season saw him drop down the pecking order, with there being the feeling at the club – amongst the supporters and even some of the directors – that Isco‘s time at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu was winding down, but they didn’t take into consideration the determination Zinedine Zidane has had to get the No.22 back in his plans. And he has.
On November 20, just 10 days ago, Zidane wanted to rediscover the best version of Isco, while the player himself wanted to be given a chance to show what he can do.
The French coach had already noticed a visible evolution physically and in Isco‘s mental state, with the player determined to turn his situation around.
Zidane, who is developing a reputation for getting players back to their best, gave Isco a start, but not just on any night – against Paris Saint-Germain.
It is with games like that where you either sink or swim and, as you probably already know, Isco was one of Real Madrid‘s best players on the night.
“We’ve never lost Isco,” Zidane said after the 2-1 win at Alaves, where Isco once again started and played a key role in the victory.
“He has personality; he doesn’t have a hard time appearing at a difficult time [in the game] and today he has been phenomenal again.”
Hunger, ambition and quality
Isco is proving that he wants to be the player he used to be, with the No.22 adding a lot of sacrifice and defensive work to his innate quality.
He is hungry, as reflected in Real Madrid‘s second goal as he beat Martin Aguirregabiria to head against the post, only for Dani Carvajal to score the rebound.
His smile when he was substituted in the final moments of the game, and the greeting with Zidane, shows the strong relationship that exists between the two. Zidane has always trusted Isco, as shown by the fact that the Malaga-born midfielder started Real Madrid‘s last two Champions League finals.
Luis Enrique will also be smiling, with the returning Spain head coach a big fan of Isco. If the playmaker is OK, he will go to the European Championship next summer and, even in his current situation, if the squad were announced tomorrow, Isco would be among the 23.