The Real Madrid foundation have not always been very keen on young talents taking the center stage, apart from rare club products Casillas, Raul, et al; ergo they have not always been in the good books of the neutral worshipers of football, when it came to promoting their youth talents up the ranks. However, Real actually boasts of one of the most creative youth academies in the world – ‘The Real Madrid Castilla’ otherwise affectionately known as ‘La Fabrica’ or ‘The Factory’. One of the most significant players, who felt lost at Real Madrid B and found his rhythm and form elsewhere (read Valencia) was Juan Mata – now the centerpiece of the Chelsea attack.
But this time around, the boss Florentio Perez along with the hard earned Carlo Ancelotti and newly appointed assistant manager Zinedine Zidane have chosen to take a peek into the White’s future too, with the highly praised signings of Castilla product Daniel Carvajal and Spanish super-talent Isco and very recently, Asier Illarramendi.
Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez, commonly known as Isco, is a native of Benalmádena, in Malaga. Being a budding asset of the Valencia youth system, Isco laid down his mark with the first team, debuting against UD Logroñés in a Copa Del Rey playoff and found the net twice in a 4-1 home win and in La Liga on 14 November 2010 against Getafe, with 20 minutes to spare. Perhaps, he’d never even thought that his signing with Malaga would broadcast his talents on a national level and surprisingly on the international stage too. He was ‘the’ protagonist in Manuel Pelligrini’s line up in all competitions. The youngster played a fundamental role in rocketing their dreams and helping them qualify for their first ever Champions League Quarter-finals. An exquisite game against Borussia Dortmund, undoubtedly a classy thriller, which they eventually lost in the final 2 minutes. He kicked off his Malaga ‘goalscoring’ campaign in a 3–2 win against Real Madrid at La Rosaleda, leading the clear underdogs to their first victory over the Madrid giants in 29 years, which further proliferated his reputation. And in the following week, he won the ‘Golden Boy‘ award beating fan favourites Stephan El Shaarawy and Thibaut Curtois.
The diminutive Spaniard was a prominent figure in the Spanish U-21 national team, commonly known as ‘La Rojita‘ or the little red one – and along with (now) fellow Madridistas, Dani Carvajal and Morata, were regulars in the champion’s squad, who eventually beat Italy 4-2 in the final. Isco was the second highest scorer, only behind Morata and his scintillating finish against Norway won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Where does he fit?
Carlo Ancelotti’s intentions look very bright and clear and he seems to be the perfect medicine for Real’s lack of chemistry in recent times – Carlo is a perfect man-manager. Everybody knows how well he coached an immature Kaka to an international phenomenon at his time at AC Milan, and under his tutelage, Isco and Carvajal will be proving their worth in no time.
Dani Carvajal is almost certain to get more starting berths than Isco – all thanks to Arbeloa’s mediocre previous season. Although Arbeloa has had a lot of exposure and is a very experienced player when it comes to the big stage, it will be fascinating to see how Carlo swaps them around. As all the football pundits in the world anticipate, his partnership with Di Maria on the right wing will be an extremely speedy affair and on their day any defense will find life hard to shut these two fluent sprinters. Real Madrid can eventually expect both their wings to be as effective as their left flank has been for the past few seasons.
Isco on the other hand has to prove his mettle among veterans of the world football, a la Ozil, Alonso, Modric and Di Maria. The controversies surrounding him (he publicly stated that he was an anti-madridista till a few years ago) will make his life a bit more difficult and fans won’t be too forgiving if he falters on the field. Ancelotti is almost certain to go on with the 4-2-3-1 formation, which actually suits Real’s extremely swift counter-attacking nature. Even though its quite obvious that Isco can play anywhere in the middle of the park, he is an attacking winger by nature and will be providing an enormous threat to Di Maria’s dominance. The number 23 shirt, worn previously by great players (Beckham and Ozil) is just an icing on the cake for him; and if he even closely manages to live up to his billing, Real is in for some serious attacking extravaganzas.
It is certainly a blunt fact that the world’s biggest club still lacks a quality poacher up front. Nevertheless, in a club of Real Madrid’s stature, decent performances might not even grant players the bench and it is an open secret that Benzema still manages to stroll on the pastures of the Bernabeau solely due to the backing of an individual, as influential as Zinedine Zidane. Very recently, Real had made it clear that they are very interested in Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani. However, with the speculation surrounding Suarez cooling down and PSG moving in for Cavani, it seems that a rotating striker will be the best plan in Carlo’s mind. Isco makes it easier for Ancelotti to finally sharpen and ascertain the Madrid attack swiftly. With the former AC Milan manager not being a big fan of employing wingers in his layouts, Isco actually acts as a powerful option for a rotating striking partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo. Its pretty obvious as to how skilled Isco is at finding the net and has shown it on multiple occasions and against formidable oppositions. This will surely lift some pressure of Benzema for a while and will actually provide him time to find the sparkling form, which he underwent in the 2011/2012 season.
Isco can surely learn strategic lessons by playing alongside Xabi Alonso – who is almost certain to play his final season for the Los Blancos. The fans won’t be too surprised to see Khedira being dropped on big occasions as ‘Alonso-Isco-Modric’ combination at the heart of the midfield will be too irresistible. Mesut Ozil will also be immensely delighted to see Isco playing alongside him because the latter can finally put an end to the never-ending heavy duties imposed on the German international.
The fans and the manager can expect pin-point precision crosses from Modric, Alonso and Isco to Ronaldo every now and then. Without doubt, Isco will be crucial in filling the holes in the Madrid-midfield. Nevertheless, Florentino Perez will be immensely delighted that he could lure two purely Spanish talents to the Bernabeau – which will eventually satisfy the appetite of the Madrid faithful and the cries for some local talent to be introduced will now meet a conclusion.
With the Bale transfer saga put on a hold until next season, the spotlight will be on to these wonder-kids, who will take some serious time to come in terms with the fact that they have finally realized their childhood fantasies of pulling on the ever mighty, ever glamorous and the ever glorious ‘ALL WHITE‘ kit.