Every now and again, a player comes along that lights up the world with his footballing talents. A player takes to the pitch like water off a duck’s back. He shows everyone that a game of football can be fun and can be enjoyed. He gets spectators on the edge of their seats and he’s one that most scouts from across Europe, in fact the World, come to see on a weekly basis.
When a player of that calibre comes through in the game, they’re almost immediately likened to another player, past or present, that’s a star in the footballing world. This player is no different, he’s already been likened to Barcelona and Spanish star, Andres Iniesta, and to be honest they may just be right, he’s got the potential to be just as good, one day.
We all know the player in question is Malaga’s twenty year old wonder kid, Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez, aka Isco.
Isco is a player who was born and raised in Benalmádena, a town and municipality in the province of Málaga. He started his youth career playing for local side Benamiel CF, that was until he was spotted by scouts from Valencia. Valencia saw him and wanted him almost straight away and sure enough he soon went.
Now at the age of just fourteen years old, it’s always hard to move away from your home, but it’s what Isco wanted, he didn’t mind moving, even though he’d be over 650 miles away from his family. He had one dream and that dream, the ambition, was to become a professional footballer he knew what he had to do. His parents were obviously worried, but obviously very supportive. I mean it can’t be easy to see your young son leave the family home so soon, but they trusted and backed him and he moved to Valencia.
When he got to Valencia, he shared a room and became good friends with another youngster in the Valencia ranks, young Australian striker – Theo Markelis. At the time, some called him the ‘next Wayne Rooney’, as I said youngster’s getting likened to the games stars. Between the pair they shared a good bond, built on the same hobbies, video games, music and of course football. They were both a good distance from their families and they looked after each other whilst at Valencia.
In 2010 both their careers changed, Isco’s long term friend Markelis moved on, he left Valencia B and joined Italian Serie B side Vicenza, but has since left and plays his football in his home country at Melbourne Victory.
Isco though stayed and made his way into the first team and on the 11th November 2010 he was awarded with his first ever minutes in a senior side, he scored a brace on his debut against Logrones CF in a Copa del Rey match helping his side win the game 4-1. Right away most could see that a young starlet was on show, a player that had confidence in abundance.
He then played in his first La Liga match just three days later, after coming on as a late substitute for Aritz Aduriz. After just a handful of first team appearances at Valencia, they did what they had done with some of their more established and senior players at the club, they sold one of their own for a big lump sum of cash. Valencia, a club that does sell players because of their debts, couldn’t ignore Malaga when they came in with a €6 million bid for the youngster, they wanted to take him ‘home’.
Isco, who left home five years prior, was set on coming home. He signed a 5 year contract with his new club and had a buy-out of €21 million installed into the contract. Malaga wanted him, stumped up the cash and even though Valencia didn’t know it, they had just let go of a real talented youngster, or like most say, they did know what they had done but they needed the €6 million it was just too much to say no to.
Malaga, a club who thought so highly of him, stumped up a lot of cash to invest in this youngster, but they had a lot of belief in him, Málaga’s sporting director said on the young man: ‘’He’s the best player of his generation’’. Now this was from a man who had an eye for talented youngster’s, this is the man who discovered and signed Dani Alves for just €1 million, he knew what he was talking about.
Isco made his Malaga debut on the 12th of September 2011, he came on as a substitute in the home game against Granada. From then on he featured in almost all of Malaga’s fixtures last season, minus the odd game here and there, nearer the start of the campaign. As we reached the end of the season he had shown through-out that he could cut it, obviously there were moments when he was a little out his depth, like any youngster in his first season at a big club.
He finished his last campaign as one that everyone was talking about, his quickness, his dribbling skills, his close control, the easiness in taking it past a player or two, the silkiness in his play, he was just a star in the making. The magical thing about him is he’s shown at times real moments of sheer brilliance, something only really special players do.
He helped Malaga do the impossible, he managed to help them qualify for the Champions League play-offs, first time they’ve ever managed to make it to the Champions league. Most would say that his first season was a very good success, a season he finished with 32 matches and 5 goals.
During the summer, there were worries surrounding the club, they were not paying the staff, the players in fact not paying anyone. The owner was getting stick and rightfully so, he wasn’t even making contact with anyone, especially the fans, he didn’t explain anything. This then hampered the side a little and with the fact that one of their main men of previous season’s Santi Cazorla left the club, he joined Arsenal to soften the clubs money problems.
This in a defeat itself to the club also helped Isco a little, he, this season as everyone has seen, has taken the challenge of being ‘the clubs main men’ in his stride, in fact he’s excelled with the chance.
This season he’s stood up, gained more confidence and shown the watching world how to play football full of confidence, he may only be twenty but he’s got the confidence and he’s well on his way to having the footballing brain of an older, more experienced player. Speaking of footballing brain, the way he plays the game is in the Spanish style, he’s still young and still needs to make the right decisions in places, mostly when at the edge of the area, should he pass, who should he pass to or should he shoot. Also, at times, he tends to go in it alone, when there is a better avenue on. Now this will obviously come in time, but for the time being he’s an extraordinary young talented player that most of us enjoy each and every week.
This season he’s stood up in games, he’s played in many positions for the team, he’s played wherever the manager asks him to, and in most games, in fact nearly all games he’s proved why the worlds talking about him. Man of the match performances in the Champions League, goals against Zenit, Betis and Valladolid, two assists to his name already. It looks likely that this is going to be a big and excellent season for the young man.
Three things are very clear.
Firstly that is Malaga’s intention of keeping him, as I said earlier he’s got a 5 year contract that he signed when he joined, taking him until 2016, with a €21 million buy-out clause. The board are working on a contract extension, they want to put him from around 400K per year up to over €1 million, nearer €1.5 million per year. They want him to sign an extension that’ll keep him at the club until 2018, but the vital point of the contract is the new buy-out clause, rumoured to be €40 million, that may scare away the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and others who have already been interested. If it doesn’t scare them away, well then at the end of the day, Malaga will get what they deserve for such a fantastic player. It will be hard though for Isco to move, after all he is back home.
Secondly, Isco who’s been in and about the Spanish set up has come through all the way from the Under 16’s up into the senior side, where he was picked for the first time, for friendlies with Serbia and South Korea in May earlier this year, he didn’t feature though. The thing is though, don’t be surprised if he’s in the squad again come Brazil 2014 and don’t’ be surprised if then, he does feature for them.
Thirdly and more importantly, if you haven’t seen the young man play then do yourself a favour and watch him. He’s a delightful little talent and at the age of just twenty, he has the world at his feet.