Isco has found it hard in Madrid ever since the appointment of Zinedine Zidane back in January.
This time three years ago, after a superb season with Malaga, Isco was one of the hottest potential stars in world football.
A move to Real Madrid would soon follow after Zinedine Zidane persuaded him to join ahead of the seriously interested Manchester City.
"When someone like Zidane, who is one of football's greats, is interested in you, that's very important,” Isco told ESPN.
Zidane was gearing up to become Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant when he made that call. Now manager of the side, his high admiration of the Spaniard seems to have faded.
3,158 minutes in his first season, 3,763 in the next: things didn’t look too gloomy for Isco. Though they began to look ominous as he featured in more than 1,000 minutes fewer last campaign.
The Champions League brought more despair. Having started every group game under Rafa Benitez, Isco sat on the sidelines in the knockout stages as Madrid fought through with new boss Zidane.
Isco failed to start games against Athletic Bilbao, Levante, Sevilla, Barcelona, Villarreal, Real Sociedad and Deportivo, on the final day of the season with the title still up for grabs, after the Frenchman’s appointment in January. 100 combined minutes in those crucial fixtures is a clear indication of how far Zidane’s rating of the attacking midfielder has fallen.
Competition for places at the Santiago Bernabeu is never going to be easy to conquer. James Rodriguez’s desire to stay and Marcio Asensio not going out on loan under Zidane’s will means Isco will continue to find himself down the pecking order.
There will undoubtedly be no shortage of suitors. Isco is still clearly an extremely gifted playmaker, who is vitally in need of game time for the sake of his potential and ultimately career.
The 24-year-old, a favourite of the demanding Bernabeu crowd, needs to look at the bigger picture, finally wave off the doubters and find some of the appreciation he deserves once again.