This time last year, after a scintillating season for Malaga, Isco was one of the hottest names and fastest rising stars in the world of soccer. The Spaniard ultimately had a choice to make between joining Spanish giants Real Madrid or following his most recent head coach at Malaga, Manuel Pellegrini, to join Manchester City in the Premier League.
City looked the favorites until Madrid swooped in at the eleventh hour to sign the emerging star. But with the imminent arrival of Gareth Bale, the decision looked curious, and now 12 months on, it was clearly an incorrect one. Isco was in the Madrid starting lineup 23 times in La Liga last season, but many of those starts came in the first half of the season while Bale adapted to his new surroundings after his move from Tottenham Hotspur.
Bale adapted and grew as the season progressed, and as a result, Isco was then condemned to the bench. And the longer the season went on, the further Isco looked from the first team picture. Now, 12 months later, Madrid have also signed the World Cup Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez, which will now further isolate Isco from the first XI.
For a young player, playing time is extremely important for their progression, and Isco cannot be progressing by sitting on the Madrid bench week after week. The move to City always looked the smartest option, where Isco would have continued to develop under Pellegrini as he had done at Malaga. That is where Isco should have gone, but everything is easier in hindsight, of course.
City do also have similar players to Isco in David Silva and Samir Nasri, but more game time would have undoubtedly been available in Manchester than it has proved to be in Madrid. But now, because of a poor decision last summer, Isco now has another one to make this summer: Stay at Madrid and fight for game time even though more big name players have arrived in his position, or ask to leave and start afresh at a new club?
Isco should be looking to leave Madrid as soon as possible. Whether that means to a Premier League club or staying in Spain is not particularly important as long as he is getting consistent minutes on the pitch. His career is more important than giving Madrid world class backup, and if he continues to stay and do that, then his career may never reach the heights that his talent and potential is truly capable of.