Isco frozen out with no way back at Real Madrid
Back pains meant Isco missed the Week 8 trip to Espanyol and since then, he has not featured in Ancelotti's plans. He has seven months left on his contract...
Like an estranged couple, Isco and Real Madrid continue to drift further apart as the midfielder enters his final months at the club. The player has dropped out of Ancelotti's plans altogether - his contract expires in June 2022 and neither side are keen on prolonging the relationship. The last international break was a watershed moment for the coach and the 29-year-old. Madrid travelled up to Cornellà for the Week 8 league meeting with Espanyol but Isco was not on the team bus - he stayed in Madrid with back pains which has surfaced the previous day. For Ancelotti, that 2-1 defeat to Espanyol left a black mark on several players, including one who didn't even make the trip - Isco. In the six games Madrid have played since then, Isco has not played a single minute.
Isco, injured or on the bench
Isco spent much of the first few weeks of the campaign on the injury list. He missed the trip to Kiev, El Clásico and the league meeting with Osasuna at the Bernabéu. But after being given a clean bill of health, he has warmed the bench in three games - against Shakhtar in Chamartín, at the Martínez Valero and at home to Rayo last weekend. In total, Isco has played just 166 minutes so far. Even last season under Zidane, with whom he had several fallings out, he had more playing time (303 minutes) at this stage of the season.
Other players have suffered dips in form but remain in contention for a place and some have started to lift themselves up and return to the side, like Asensio; others are in a more delicate situation (Jovic) and three players are coming to the end of their contracts with the club and will not continue - Bale, Marcelo and Isco.
Six players ahead of Isco
Ancelotti is fine-tuning the team as the season marches on but it is looking unlikely that Isco will be handed a relevant role to play. The midfield set-up of Casemiro-Kroos-Modric is parctically untouchable and when one of them is unavailable, the coach will call Fede Valverde or bring in Camavinga as part of the process to help him adjust to the team. And if he is without those options, Ancelotti will have Dani Ceballos once he is fully recovered from injury. And right at the back of the queue is Isco.
Isco's lowly status within the pecking order won't help him to attract offers when his contract runs out next summer. The clubs that were interested in him last summer didn't push to sign him at the time because they didn't want to pay a transfer fee. We'll see if any of them still think that Isco can re-launch his career when his time at Madrid comes to an end in seven months' time...
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