From Malaga with Love: 5 Clubs Isco Could Be Sold To
When Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani was announced as the owner of Malaga in 2010, a wave of optimism and excitement swept over the Costa del Sol.
There was talk of competing with Real Madrid and Barcelona, and the likes of Santi Cazorla, Isco and manager Manuel Pellegrini were brought in to fortify the side.
Recently, however, the Qatari Royal appears to be neglecting his financial obligation to Los Boquerones, leaving them in financial dire straits.
Malaga now face a potentially devastating ban from UEFA competitions for unpaid debts, Santi Cazorla was sold to help balance the books and both Pellegrini and Isco look set to leave soon.
In January, the 20-year-old attacking midfielder signed a three-year contract extension that includes a €35 million buy-out clause—but that hasn't halted strong rumours of a summer departure.
This week, Isco welcomed a move to another club (AS via ESPN FC), noting the big transfer fee would help his struggling employers.
Here are five potential summer destinations for the highly sought-after Spanish international.
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According to a December report at Goal.com, Roberto Mancini was "desperate" to bring Isco to Eastlands for a number of months prior to the transfer window.
His buy-out clause before agreeing a new contract was set at around £17.5 million, with City officials apparently feeling any fee under £20 million would be good business.
Considering the Citizens' resources, having to pay an extra 50 percent on that fee shouldn't be too much of a stretch.
Isco is the kind of player Mancini has been targeting, having missed out on Eden Hazard, and he will find good company in countryman Javi Garcia and fellow Valencia youth academy graduate David Silva.
In exchange for loaning Brazilian youngster Lucas Piazon to Malaga for the remainder of the season, the London Evening Standard are among the newspapers who believe Chelsea have been given first refusal to buy Isco in the summer.
The Blues were said to be close to bringing Isco to the UK in January, but he may have delayed his arrival on the basis of the aforementioned loan arrangement. A summer transfer may also coincide with the departure of veteran midfielder Frank Lampard, whose contract situation remains unclear.
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Bayern Munich already have a formidable squad, but Pep Guardiola will apparently be given a "war chest" (Daily Mail) of around £240 million to make further improvements.
The former Barcelona manager is said to be a keen admirer of Isco, with Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo Deportivo (via InsideFutbol.com) under the impression that the Bundesliga leaders are in a straight duel with Chelsea for his signature.
German rumours (TransferMarketWeb.com) also suggest the Malaga star could be Pep's first signing in Germany.
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According to the Evening Standard (via TribalFootball.com), Spurs sent coach Tim Sherwood out to Malaga to scout Isco in January.
Later that month, Spanish reports (via The Metro) suggested the North London side had an £8 million bid rejected—probably because that was less than half of the value of his release clause at the time!
If Tottenham receive a huge transfer fee for Gareth Bale and qualify for the Champions League—both likely prospects—Isco is the kind of player who could be purchased to complement a midfield that would have lost the Welshman and Luka Modric the previous season.
It's not clear who will be managing Real Madrid's next campaign, but president Florentino Perez is likely to sanction plenty of investment in light of this season's disappointing domestic performance.
In January, El Mundo Deportivo (via GiveMeFootball.com) reported Los Blancos' interest in the 20-year-old, with Perez using him as a "figurehead" to hail a new generation of players.
If Xabi Alonso continues to stall in contract negotiations—perhaps in order to complete a rumored move back to England (The Independent)—Isco will serve as ideal cover.