According to the reports Spanish midfielder Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez, popularly known as Isco, is reportedly in talks for a move to Arsenal.
Currently at Real Madrid, the 29-year-old will be a free agent in June 2022. Isco has been a part of Real Madrid since 2013 and played a pivotal role in their 3-peat between 2016 and 2018. However, in the last 3 years, he has registered only 34 starts in the league.
Under manager Carlo Ancelotti this season, the Spanish midfielder has managed a meagre 168 league minutes in 12 games and has fallen behind Vinicius Jr, Marco Asensio, Rodrygo and others in the pecking order. Arsenal have emerged as a potential repose for the beleaguered Spaniard.
According to Spanish outlet TodoFichajes (via The Sun), Arsenal are interested in securing the services of Isco. The Gunners are long-time admirers of the former Malaga playmaker and have reportedly contacted the Madrid bosses over a potential transfer.
The Spanish midfielder was heavily linked to Arsenal in this summer transfer window, with reports quoting him to be available at just £15m. The North London side signed his teammate and Norwegian international Martin Odegaard instead. However, with a prolonged exile from Ancelotti’s starting XI and a dwindling contract, the rumours have re-emerged.
With AC Milan backing out of the race, TodoFichajes believes that Arsenal are strong contenders to secure the signature of the Spanish international. However, Newcastle United are also said to be in the hunt and believe that Isco could be a prominent figure in the squad upheaval made possible by a multi-billion takeover.
The report states that the club are open to the sale and the final decision rests on the player himself. While Isco himself hinted at a move to the Premier League late in 2020, subsequent reports suggested that his high wages may have been the reason a transfer to Arsenal never materialised.
However, the Gunners could be tempted to step into the bidding pool this time. They lack quality in depth, especially in midfield and the board seem to be getting behind the manager. With links to other players who play similar positions fading, like Houssem Aouar and Julian Brandt, Isco could be a realistic option for Arsenal.
Although Isco is at a good point in his career, a lack of consistent minutes makes him a slightly risky option. Over the last 365 days, his performances have looked like this:
Pros and Cons of Signing Isco for Arsenal:
Experience:Isco has played a lot of football in the LaLiga and the Champions League over the years. The current Arsenal midfield includes youngsters like Sambi Lokonga, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith-Rowe, and Isco could lend some balance to the set-up.
Depth:Mikel Arteta has often deployed a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-4-1 formation that takes the shape of a 3-4-3 in attack, with a midfield of Xhaka, Partey and Smith-Rowe and Lacazette or Odegaard as a secondary striker behind Aubameyang. However, the Gunners are desperately short of backup options. While Lokonga, Elneny and even Maitland-Niles can cover the defensive roles, they have almost no backup for the attacking midfield role.
Quality:At the moment, Isco is a far better player than either Odegaard or Smith-Rowe. His quality from the deeper areas and ability to progress the ball could greatly aid the North London side, who have often struggled to create clear cut chances. 76% of opposition pressures against Arsenal occur in the Gunners’ middle or attacking third, and Isco’s ability to beat a man 1v1 or create a chance out of nothing could add a layer to Arteta’s side.
Central Role: Unlike at Real Madrid, where Isco was a deputy to Ronaldo or Benzema around whom the system was built, Mikel Arteta could deploy Isco in a system that compliments his skill set best, if not is built around the Spaniard.
Progress halting:Smith-Rowe has made immense progress under Arteta and Odegaard has also looked very bright. Although Isco may be a better player at the moment, it may prove to be counterproductive for Arsenal to drop either of their youngsters to accommodate the Spaniard. Furthermore, the transition of Miguel Azeez and Folarin Balogun to the main team may be negatively affected by the signing.
Low cost, but not low risk:Although Isco could arrive at a cut-price in January or a free transfer in June, his high wages remain an issue. If reports of his £6 million annual wage demands are true, he would automatically become one of Arsenal’s highest earners, behind only Aubameyang, Lacazette, Partey and Pepe. And at the age of 29, Isco is a medium-to-short term investment, so high wages could possibly hinder future signings.
Attitude Problems:For a player who was so important under Zidane, Isco has struggled to gain the same faith from Lopetegui, Solari, even the Frenchman on his second stint and now finally Ancelotti. A crack on the surface was noticed when he reportedly failed to warm up in 3 games in 2020. Under Arteta, and alongside a relatively more inexperienced crop of players, Isco may be a negative presence in the dressing room.
Overall, Isco is a genuine option for Arsenal in January. However, with other options like Lorenzo Pellegrini, Dejan Kulusevski, Karim Adeyemi, Houssem Aouar, and Christopher Nkunku, players who can play as an attacking midfielder or on the wings, getting linked with a potential transfer to the Emirates, the Gunners would not have too many regrets if they were to look elsewhere