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Real Madrid: Isco at a dead end

The midfielder has not received any offers to leave Real Madrid in the winter transfer - like last summer. He's not getting playing time and he's 29 years old...

Real Madrid: Isco at a dead end
Gonzalo Arroyo MorenoGetty Images

Things aren't looking up for Isco - even a change of coach at Real Madrid hasn't changed his situation. Just when it seemed that Carlo Ancelotti's return might reignite his career at Madrid, the reality is that nothing has changed - he's hardly getting any playing time at all. On top of that, he is in the final year of his contract and theoretically could leave Madrid during next month's transfer window to spend the rest of the season on loan with his current employers pay part of his salary. But even that isn't an option because he has no offers on the table.

At 29, not getting regular playing time won't help Isco to find a new club. While he is still physically fit and with several years left in the game, a lack of opportunities will affect his changes of securing a decent contract when he leaves next summer. In part, he is a victim of a midfield which is the only line of the team where there is a surplus of players. Apart from the undisputed first-choice starts (Casemiro, Modric and Kroos), another three players are ahead of him in the queue - Fede Valverde, Camavinga (signed over the summer for 40 million euros) and even Antonio Blanco, one of the players to have emerged from the youth academy. With such a scenario, it's no wonder that Isco is starting to worry.

Attitude problems haven't helped. He had a run-in with Zidane in the French coach's last season at the club, and this season, Isco didn't do himself any favours with his petulance towards Ancelotti over the warm-up in Granada. Isco was warming up for most of the second half along with Jovic and Camavinga. He presumed that the Italian coach was going to make a triple substitution, with the game under control. But with the game winding down and no signs that he would enter, he went back to the dugout in a huff. Following that episode, he has been symbolically placed on Ancelotti's balcklist. He was an unused sub in the following games against Sevilla and Athletic.

Isco's problems with Ancelotti go a little further back. In Madrid's games against Espanyol, Barça and Osasuna in mid-October, Isco was unavailable, reported as suffering a mystery back problem. Since then, the Italian coach has frozen him out. Isco was in the starting XI for two games (Levante and Betis) in the first three games of the campaign. Ancelotti gave him an opportunity… but Isco just hasn't cut it this season with Madrid.

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Promising career

Isco joined Real Madrid from Málaga in the summer of 2013 for 30 million euros. He was only 21  and considered the golden boy of Spanish football. He was in the starting line-up for two of the three Champions League finals won under Zidane (keeping Bale on the bench against Liverpool in 2018). in the 2014 final with Ancelotti, he came on with Marcelo as second half subs. In total, he has played 343 games and scored 52 goals during his time at Real Madrid. But these last two years have been an ordeal. Out of favour, without offers and waiting for his contract to expire so he can revive his career somewhere else.