By Daniel Moxon – @dmoxon_
A report from Mundo Deportivo surfaced yesterday, claiming that Real Madrid are finally prepared to sell one of their prize assets in creative attacking midfielder Isco.
He has been a key player for Los Merengues and the Spanish national team since signing from hometown club Malaga in 2013, being a regular in the first team under numerous managers at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
Under Santiago Solari – the man that was promoted to replace Julen Lopetegui after his ill-fated spell in the managerial hot seat – Isco has found himself more on the periphery, hence the talk about them finally being willing to sell.
The two have had something of a falling out, with the player reportedly unhappy at his lack of involvement over the last few weeks and the gaffer not even bothering to include him in the 18-man squad that took-on Roma in the UEFA Champions League.
His current contract, which expires in 2022, has a reported release clause of an eye-watering £700m. Now, no-one in the world would, or even can, pay that much for him, but the frosty tensions and lack of playing time suggest that Real would be willing to listen to offers of a lot less.
‘No-brainer’ for Liverpool
It’s no secret that the Reds’ front line isn’t firing as it did last season.
The trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino still have an impressive 21 goals and six assists between them in all competitions so far in 2018/19, but aren’t showing the same cutting edge and no longer look like they will score every time they face goal.
This is, in part, due to a change in style from Jurgen Klopp. No longer are Liverpool playing the free-flowing, counter-attacking football that saw them run out of steam at the end of the last campaign, but a more methodical approach.
It has resulted in defensive stability – the likes of that we have not seen in many a year – but it has also had a detrimental effect on attacking play and it has highlighted a lack of attacking nous from central midfield.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is, of course, the player most natural in this position, but he is unavailable this season. James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho have their uses but aren’t natural attacking players. Naby Keita is, but hasn’t yet been able to fully settle and we don’t know for sure yet exactly what the Reds are going to get from him.
Creativity in midfield is what Liverpool are desperately crying out for at the moment, and Isco is arguably one of the best in the world in his position – if Klopp wants to win trophies then he needs to sign world-class quality in this area, and this is exactly what the Spaniard brings.
He has a good footballing brain and can pick a pass while on the ball, something that Klopp’s side needs right now, but he is also more than comfortable in carrying the ball, possessing the pace and trickery required to bamboozle and ultimately unlock defences.
More than that, it is a statement of intent – Liverpool have had a few of these in recent seasons, bringing in the likes of Mo Salah, Sadio Mané, Virgil van Dijk and Alisson for large fees, all of whom are world-class player in their own right.
Isco is another who falls into this category and, in my humble opinion, adds world-class quality to an area of the pitch in which Liverpool currently possess none – Fabinho and Keita have the potential to be among the best in the world at what they do, but we haven’t seen anywhere near enough of them for me to comfortably say that they are.
It would cost a lot of money – most likely more than £100m – but Liverpool cannot afford to not at least attempt to sign players of Isco’s ability and stature in world football when the opportunity arises.