Isco Can Serve as Mesut Ozil's Replacement at Real Madrid

Daniel EdwardsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 22:   Francisco Roman 'Isco' of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring Real's 2nd goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Getafe at Bernabeu stadium on September 22, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Mesut Ozil's absence at Real Madrid has already been felt. There is no shortage of talent still in the Blancos front line, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Lukas Modric staying on. 

But without the delicate touch of the German playmaker, the attack takes on the appearance of a dodgems circuit. Four or five men all roving the field looking for an opening, crashing into each other and falling well short of expectations.

The new Arsenal man was underutilised at the Bernabeu, but it is only since he has left that his calm, measured presence and delicate approach to the game has started to be missed. 

With regards to the new kids on the Madrid block, Gareth Bale provides much of the same. The Welsh winger—formerly of Tottenham—is rightly regarded as one of the best young talents in the world thanks to his impeccable physical attributes. 

But he offers the Spanish club little in the way of variation with his trademark bursts down the left flank. Bale's game, while often very effective and a nightmare for many full-backs, is not based on subtlety.

The burden of replacing Ozil, then, will fall on the young shoulders of Francisco Roman Alarcon Suarez, or Isco, the nickname with which the forward is rapidly making his name. 

At just 5'9" and slightly built, Isco is dwarfed by the likes of Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema. The ex-Malaga star, however, has proven that he was more than ready to make the step up in class, making an excellent start to his Bernabeu career. After just seven games with the club, Isco has already bagged five goals as well as two assists. 

He is not a carbon copy of Ozil, one of the few players in the modern age who bring to mind a classic "enganche" or playmaker in the best South American tradition. While the German's upright, magisterial style on the pitch reminds one of a Juan Roman Riquelme or perhaps Rivaldo, Isco takes inspiration from other figures. 

His low centre of gravity, tenacious strength and prodigious feet mean he has more in common on the ball with the likes of Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi and before them the incomparable Diego Maradona.

And while he does not possess the same physical attributes that make his team-mates some of the best competitors in La Liga, his pace and acceleration over short distances make him a terrifying opponent in the final third. 

Isco is not Ozil and nor should he try to be. But the former Malaga man can play a key role in Real Madrid by balancing the tendency to attack with sheer brute force thereby introducing his own brand of subtle approach play.

If he can continue his excellent start to the season and more importantly consolidates his place among Madrid's bumper cars as a more delicate link between midfield and attack, the loss of Arsenal's record signing may not be felt so acutely around the Bernabeu.