I wrote earlier this week that the Spaniard is exactly the kind of signing who United could make to finally replace Paul Scholes in their midfield. However, whilst Fabregas is a tantalizing prospect for any potential suitors, United might want to consider a younger model like Isco of Malaga.
For one thing, Arsenal reportedly have first right of refusal on their former captain and, due to the 50% share of the profits they’d receive on any transfer of the 26-year-old from Barcelona, the Catalans would likely prefer he went back to where he came from just two years ago.
Meanwhile, it’s no secret that Malaga are in financial difficulty and will likely lose their manager Manuel Pellegrini imminently to Manchester City who are widely expected to appoint him as their replacement for Roberto Mancini.
Isco is hailed in his homeland as the next Cesc Fabregas and has been for a couple of years now since he broke through from the youth ranks at Valencia before transferring to Malaga.
Isco is one of the hottest young properties on the continent at present and, despite signing a new contract that runs until 2016 with a release clause of £30 million built into it, he is still a better buy for United than Fabregas.
At 26 Fabregas is entering the peak of his powers and still has plenty of years left to play at the highest level but at 21 years old Isco is by far the better option in the long-term which, if you’re attempting to replace Paul Scholes, is probably the best way to go.
In terms of economy, Isco would be the more astute purchase considering Fabregas is valued between £40 million and £50 million and considering the sizeable chunk of the profits Arsenal would be due from any deal, Barcelona will be looking to milk their prized cash cow for every penny he’s worth.
They’re very similar players – obviously as the elder, Fabregas has vastly more experience than Isco and he is the more complete player but, as Isco develops and improves, I suspect there won’t be much between them, considering the exceptional quality of the youngster.
Despite the release clause and the extended contract, Isco would likely be open to a move due to the instability at Malaga following their financial collapse, the sell-off of some key players (like Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal) and the expected loss of their highly-regarded manager. However the bad news is Manchester City's next manager Manuel Pellegrini likely gives them an edge in any deal.
However pound for pound, if Manchester United are looking for a long-term replacement for one of the best playmakers in the game, they’d be far better off spending £30 million on 21-year-old Isco than £40-odd million on a 26-year-old Cesc Fabregas.
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