With the Spaniard almost certain to sign for Real Madrid, how far away are City from joining the cream of Europe?
The future of Isco seems as changeable as the weather.
Last week it appeared a deal was done with Real Madrid, only for that to be swiftly rejected in favour of the increased playing time at Manchester City.
Suddenly it seemed Manuel Pellegrini had secured one of Europe’s brightest prospects, just days after signing the exciting and potentially game-changing pair of Jesus Navas and Fernandinho.
That was until yesterday, when Spanish reports claimed Real had agreed a €24million deal to bring the player to the Bernabeu.
If those reports are true – and they appear to be – City have some thinking to do. Do they do what others won’t and stump up Edinson Cavani’s release clause? Do they look elsewhere for both a new striker and a midfield playmaker? Or do they stick with what they have got?
And furthermore, do they have to ask themselves why a player desperate for game-time chose to compete with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Luka Modric and Kaka for a starting berth, rather than gain one with far more ease at the Etihad?
The simple fact is that Real’s agreement with Malaga means little without the player’s agreement. But reports suggest he is Madrid-bound despite the opportunity to work with his “footballing father” Pellegrini.
Despite their attempts at breaking into the European elite, City look set to be snubbed by a player who by all accounts could grace the best of them. So are they still a considerable way behind those who dine at the continent’s top table? Or is this just a case of a single player choosing one club over another with nothing more to read into it than that?
The truth is until City prove themselves in Europe there will be some targets that at best can be flirted with – Isco being the perfect example.
Their latest legacy is in its early stages, and as such, players who know how good they are will choose clubs who can instantly match their ambition rather than those for whom the ultimate success is still in the foundation stage.
That isn’t meant as an insult to City or their fans. It is a simple statement of fact that more than ever success in Europe is paramount for the class of player City are seeking.
Players like Fernandinho can arrive and instantly claim that the Blues can end the season with Champions League success, but other players know it isn’t that easy.
With the resurgence of the Bundesliga, the re-grouping of Barcelona and Real Madrid and the spending power of PSG and Monaco, Pellegrini has to not only teach his players to be successful at the highest level, but he has to do so under the challenge of three countries all (in their own ways) usurping English football.
Isco is just one man, and his potential snub can be rebranded simple choice. But City may have to start reaching the later stages of Europe’s premier competition before Europe’s premier players will see them as not only a possible choice, but the only choice.
How far away do you think City are from becoming one of the best clubs in Europe? And if they miss out on Isco as expected, who should they sign instead?
image: © strollers