Isco playing for Real Madrid in 2013
|Full name||Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez|
|Date of birth||21 April 1992|
|Place of birth||Benalmádena, Spain|
|Height||1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 09:05, 25 September 2016 (UTC).
Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez (born 21 April 1992), commonly known as Isco (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈisko]), is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for Real Madrid as an attacking midfielder.
He began his career at Valencia, playing mainly in its reserve team, before joining Málaga in 2011. His performances at Malaga earned him the Golden Boy award in 2012, and a €30 million move to Real Madrid in June 2013.
Isco represented Spain at various youth levels, including at the 2012 Olympics, and made his senior international debut in 2013.
A product of Valencia CF's youth system, Isco made his debut with the first team on 11 November 2010, against UD Logroñés for the campaign's Copa del Rey, scoring two goals in a 4–1 home win. Previously, he spent one full season with the reserves in Segunda División B, netting once in 26 games and suffering relegation.
In mid-July 2011, after helping Valencia's B-team return to the third level by scoring 15 goals, Isco signed a five-year contract with Málaga CF after the club activated his buy-out clause of €6 million. He scored his first goal for his new team on 21 November 2011, starting in a 3–1 away win against Racing de Santander; he netted again the following week in a 2–1 win against Villarreal CF, and finished his first season with 32 games and five goals as the side qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in its history.
On 18 September 2012, in Málaga's first game in the Champions League group stage, Isco netted twice in a 3–0 home win over FC Zenit Saint Petersburg, also being chosen as Man of the Match. On 22 December he scored the first goal in an eventual 3–2 win against Real Madrid at La Rosaleda, leading the locals to their first victory over that opponent in 29 years; in December he won the Golden Boy award, beating Stephan El Shaarawy and Thibaut Courtois.
On 28 January 2013, Isco ended speculation regarding his future by signing a new contract with Málaga – his new buyout clause was set at €35 million. He scored his eleventh goal of the campaign on 13 March, netting the opener in a 2–0 home win against F.C. Porto, good enough for last-eight qualification after the 0–1 loss in Portugal.
On 17 June 2013, Isco confirmed that he had received offers from Real Madrid and former Málaga manager Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City, but stated he would only make a final decision on his future after the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final. On 26 June, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez confirmed that a deal had been reached with the player and that he would be presented by the club next week, once he passed his medical; the following day he signed a five-year contract, with Real Madrid paying €30 million for his services, thus becoming the first signing of newly appointed manager Carlo Ancelotti.
On 18 August 2013 Isco made his official debut for the Merengues, recording an assist and scoring the winning goal in a 2–1 home win over Real Betis, the latter coming through an 85th-minute header. He continued with his form by netting two goals against Athletic Bilbao on 1 September (3–1, also at the Santiago Bernabéu).
In spite of continuing to score regularly when featured, Isco received limited opportunities in the first team due to the 4–3–3 formation not being suited for his style, but Ancelotti stated that it was "a temporary problem". He scored 11 goals in 53 official games in his first season, including 61 minutes in the Champions League final, a 4–1 win over Atlético Madrid.
Isco started the first game of the 2014–15 season against Real Sociedad, and scored the first in a 4–1 win against UD Almería on 12 December 2014. He was a regular starter in the club's FIFA Club World Cup winning campaign, scoring the last in a 4–0 semi-final routing of Cruz Azul. His performances over the season earned him many plaudits, and he was compared to Zinedine Zidane by the French legend himself.
Prior to the start of the 2015–16 season, Isco switched his shirt number from 23 to 22, which he had previously worn at Málaga. On 21 November 2015, as Real lost 0–4 at home to FC Barcelona in El Clásico, he was sent off in the 84th minute for a foul on Neymar. He scored twice on 2 December, as the team won 3–1 at Cádiz CF in the first leg of the last 32 of the domestic cup.
Isco appeared with Spain's U17 in 2009 FIFA World Cup, scoring three times in the process as the nation finished third. In 2011 he represented his country – together with Málaga team mate Recio – in the U-20 World Cup held in Colombia, netting one goal in an eventual quarter-final exit.
On 28 February 2012 Isco was called to the Spanish under-23s for a friendly against Egypt, but did not leave the bench. On 15 May he was picked for the first time to the senior team for friendlies with Serbia and South Korea, but took no part in either match. In July, he went with the under-23 team to the Olympics in London, starting all of Spain's matches as they were eliminated without scoring a goal.
On 6 February 2013 Isco made his debut with the main squad, playing the last 30 minutes in a 3–1 win over Uruguay in Doha, Qatar. Also that year he appeared at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Israel, he scored in the final and finished the competition with the Bronze Boot (3 Goals) and made the team of the tournament as a key player for the eventual winners.
Style of play
Isco began his career as an attacking midfielder or as a second striker: at Málaga, under Manuel Pellegrini, he often played in an attacking role in the team's 4–2–3–1 formation. Following his move to Real Madrid, manager Carlo Ancelotti also played him in a deeper midfield playmaking role requiring more sacrifice and defensive duties than his natural position. He has also been deployed as a winger on occasion.
A quick, skilful and creative player, Isco is known for his natural ability to pick out an inch-perfect pass, dribble effortlessly through two or three challenges or drift a shot into the top corner of the goal. His one-step-ahead reading of the game, his anticipation of space and the general directing of his side's performances are his most common traits.
In 2013, Isco was credited by Marca journalist Pablo Polo as being "the most promising young player in Spanish football", comparing his strength, skill, and low centre of gravity to Sergio Agüero, and his vision and passing abilities to Zinedine Zidane. Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas predicted in 2015 that Isco would become Spain's most important player.
- Scores and results list Spain's goal tally first.
|1.||15 November 2014||Estadio Nuevo Colombino, Huelva||Belarus||1–0||3–0||UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying|
- Real Madrid
- UEFA Champions League: 2013–14, 2015–16
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2014
- UEFA Super Cup: 2014, 2016
- Copa del Rey: 2013–14
- Golden Boy Award: 2012
- La Liga Breakthrough Player: 2012
- Trofeo Bravo: 2013
- UEFA European Under-21 Championship: Bronze Boot 2013, Team of the Tournament 2013
- "Marco Fabian, Isco and the young stars who emerged at the 2012 Olympics". Goal.com. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- Neil Johnston (20 August 2014). "Charlie I'Anson: The only Englishman in Spain's elite". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Copa del Rey: Isco y Vicente alegran la noche en Mestalla (4–1)" [Copa del Rey: Isco and Vicente light up night at Mestalla (4–1)] (in Spanish). Goal.com. 11 November 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Valencia 4–1 Logrones CF; ESPN Soccernet, 11 November 2010
- Valencia get back to winning ways; ESPN Soccernet, 14 November 2010
- Isco firma cinco temporadas por el Málaga (Isco signs for five seasons with Málaga); Marca, 11 July 2011 (Spanish)
- Malaga up to fifth; ESPN Soccernet, 21 November 2011
- Malaga 2–1 Villarreal: Toulalan scores and is sent off as Manuel Pellegrini's men go fifth in La Liga; Goal.com, 28 November 2011
- Magical Málaga make it a debut to remember; UEFA.com, 18 September 2012
- "Malaga 3–2 Real Madrid: Casillas dropped as beleaguered Blancos succumb to Santa Cruz double". Goal.com. 22 December 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- "Isco, ganador del prestigioso Golden Boy" [Isco, winner of prestigious Golden Boy award] (in Spanish). Málaga's official website. 22 December 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- Ed Dove (28 March 2013). "Isco: Most Improved Players". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
- "Isco ends speculation regarding future by penning new Malaga contract". Sky Sports. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "Santa Cruz sends Málaga into last eight". UEFA.com. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- "Málaga cruise into Champions League quarter-finals after Porto are sunk". The Guardian. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- "Isco reveals City and Madrid offers". Goal.com. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- "Transfer news: Real Madrid say they have won battle to sign Isco". Sky Sports. 27 June 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "Isco: Real Madrid agree deal for Manchester City target". bbc.co.uk. 27 June 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "Real Madrid give Carlo Ancelotti winning start after Isco's dream debut". The Guardian. 18 August 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- "Progresa adecuadamente" [Steady progress] (in Spanish). Marca. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
- "Ancelotti: Ronaldo and Isco are unhappy". Goal.com. 16 February 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- "Real Madrid 4–1 Atlético Madrid". BBC Sport. 24 May 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
- Jenson, Pete (12 December 2014). "Almeria 1–4 Real Madrid: Isco, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo strike to hand Carlo Ancelotti's side 20th consecutive victory". Daily Mail. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
- Mendola, Nicholas (16 December 2014). "Ronaldo, Isco combine for nifty goal in Real Madrid's 4–0 Club World Cup win over Cruz Azul". NBC Sports. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
- Cerezo, Hugo (2 February 2015). "There is no stopping Isco". Marca. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
- Law, Matt (19 January 2015). "Zinedine Zidane: "Isco is a lot like me"". Sports Mole. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
- "Isco and Nacho's new numbers". Marca. 8 July 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Bell, Arch (21 November 2015). "A Real crisis". Marca. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
- "Cádiz 1–3 Real Madrid". BBC Sport. 2 December 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
- "Spot-on Real Madrid defeat Atlético in final again". uefa.com. 28 May 2016.
- Convocatoria para el partido internacional olímpico España-Egipto (Spain-Egypt Olympic call-up); RFEF, 24 February 2012 (Spanish)
- "Euro 2012 trio Mata, Alba & Martinez in Spain Olympic squad". BBC Sport. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- Campeón hasta en los simulacros (Champion even in drills); Marca, 6 February 2013 (Spanish)
- "Morata wins Golden Boot in Spanish clean sweep". UEFA.com. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- "Thiago leads all-star squad dominated by Spain". UEFA.com. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- Hunter, Graham (15 November 2014). "Much-changed Spain dominate Belarus". UEFA. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- "Isco, Ancelotti's go-to guy". Marca. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- Rob Train (3 December 2015). "Real Madrid dealing with difficult James-Isco balancing act". ESPN FC. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Isco's rise complicates Ancelotti's starting lineup at Real Madrid". ESPN FC. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- "For a footballer there is nothing greater than Real Madrid"". RealMadrid.com. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- Pablo Polo (28 June 2013). "Zidane's class and Agüero's shimmy". Marca. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
- "Casillas: "Isco, el futuro jugador más importante de España"" [Casillas: "Isco, Spain's future most important player"] (in Spanish). Diario AS. 22 February 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
- Roshanzadeh, Ahmad (25 February 2015). "Real Madrid Captain Iker Casillas Praises Performance of Isco, But Warns Not Be Blinded By Flattery!". Air Herald. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- "Isco". Soccerway. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- "Isco". ESPN FC. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
- "Isco". National football Team. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
- Winter, Henry (12 August 2014). "Real Madrid 2 Sevilla 0: Cristiano Ronaldo at the double as European Cup winners claim Uefa Super Cup in Cardiff". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Jenson, Pete (16 April 2014). "Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid: Gareth Bale scores stunning late winner to clinch Copa del Rey and win first trophy in Spain". Mail Online. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- "FIFA U17 World Cup - Columbia 0 - 1 Spain". FIFA.com. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- "Isco wins the 2012 Golden Boy award". insidespanishfootball.com. 22 December 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- Melling, Cam (27 July 2013). "Real Madrid: What Will Isco Bring To The Table?". SoccerSouls. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- "Bravo awards". rsssf,com. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
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