Isco: Breaking Down the Malaga Star's Best Qualities and Areas for Improvement

Samuel Marsden@@samuelmarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2013

MALAGA, SPAIN - MARCH 13:  Isco of Malaga CF celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Malaga CF and FC Porto at La Rosaleda Stadium on March 13, 2013 in Malaga, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Outside of football Francisco Roman Alorcon Suarez—better known to you and me as Isco—enjoys nothing more than relaxing with Messi.

Maybe they'll hang out on the sofa watching some junk food television or perhaps they'll go for a walk.

Isco may even take Messi with him when he goes to meet his childhood friends, friends who he told AS he regularly still meets up with for a kickabout, games of ping pong and trips to the cinema.

It's unlikely Messi will be able to do the latter though because, as you might have guessed, it's not actually the Barcelona version but merely Isco's dog.

Not 21 until the 21st of next month it's easy to forget that Isco is still quite that young, particularly given the maturity of his performances in the Champions League and his moments of dazzling skill like this.

Created somewhere in the mold of players like Juan Mata, David Silva, Andres Iniesta and Santi Cazorla, he is hot property at the moment and has already admitted "if it would help Malaga, [he] wouldn't have a problem accepting a transfer, if it benefited both of [the parties]."

English clubs are said to be leading the hunt for UEFA's Golden Boy—an award for the best young player in Europe—while Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have all been linked in passing.

But what is it about Isco that has people queuing outside his door kitted out with a quill and scroll for him to jot his name on?

He has a magnetic touch and that beautiful ability to beat a man without seeming to exert too much pace, at least not to the naked eye. Take his first touch and finish against Real Madrid as an example of his end product too—he has 11 goals and four assists across the league and in Europe.

If not yet his array of passing, his short and intricate passing is already central to his game—he averages around 85 percent pass completion across all competitions this season (via

It's in the Champions League though where he has really excelled, demonstrating his ability to perform on the big occasion despite his tender years.

Two goals against Zenit Saint Petersburg were followed up with assists against Anderlecht and AC Milan as Malaga topped their group to progress into the Round of 16. But his best was to come against Porto in the recent last 16 encounter.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg in Portugal, Isco scored with a great strike and laid on the second as Manuel Pellegrini's side turned around the deficit to advance to the quarterfinals and a meeting with Borussia Dortmund.

But although his dog may be called Messi, Isco is not without his flaws and is still a distance from being considered in the same bracket as players such as the Barcelona forward.

He remains culpable in possession and still needs to refine his decision making. In fact, a post on in February suggested that Isco was one of the most guilty players in Europe when it came to losing the ball.

As of February the analysis showed that he is dispossessed on average 3.09 times a match, while he also overruns dribbles on 2.91 occasions every game. A total of 8.26 losses of possession per game was not particularly flattering either.

That shouldn't be regarded as too much of a criticism though. Isco has been thrust into the spotlight at Malaga following the enforced sale of Santi Cazorla to Arsenal last summer and has, by and large, excelled throughout the season.

Los Boquerones forked out around €6 million to bring him back home to Andalusia from Valencia two years ago, if he leaves this summer they'll make a handsome return on a young man who could become one of the best players in Europe over the next five years.


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