Toni Kroos' transfer from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid is great news for the Spanish club, which have secured one of the world's most talented midfielders, as per Bayern's official Twitter account:
DONE DEAL: Toni Kroos will make an immediate switch to Real Madrid after the clubs reached an agreement.— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) July 17, 2014
That said, plenty of current Bernabeu stars will be questioning their futures after the deal was confirmed. None more so than Isco, whose stuttering Madrid career threatens to come to a complete halt under Carlo Ancelotti.
The talented Spaniard, who rose to prominence during a fantastic three-year spell with Malaga, is already suffering limited game time in a squad crammed with quality. He made 23 starts and nine substitute appearances during the 2013-14 La Liga season, completing 90 minutes just eight times, as recorded by WhoScored.com.
How will Isco's career progress at Real Madrid now Toni Kroos has signed?
Interestingly, half of Isco's fully completed matches came before Sept. 14. Despite scoring three and assisting one in his opening month, the attacking midfielder's playing time diminished as Gareth Bale got to grips with life in the Spanish capital.
Madrid's formation—most often an attacking 4-3-3 that harnesses three well-rounded midfielders behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Bale—now overlooks Isco's creative ability through the centre.
Angel Di Maria's conversion to central midfield is an example of Ancelotti fitting his most explosive players into the system, but the Argentinian's pace and boundless energy ensures that he is present across the pitch.
Isco doesn't offer such adaptability and is therefore often squeezed out of the team's starting plans. Kroos' arrival will only add to this, even if Di Maria and Sami Khedira are destined to leave the club, as per Sid Lowe of ESPN.
Kroos will most likely sit alongside Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric in Ancelotti's midfield trio. The passing ability on show here is unmatched across the globe, while all three are dynamic enough to ensure they contribute defensively and in attacking positions.
At the age of 32, Alonso will begin to slow down soon. Even so, his game has never been defined by speed or agility. Similar to Andrea Pirlo at Juventus, he is a player whose passing, vision and overall leadership ensures he remains key to the side. Ancelotti said it is "impossible to find someone else with his qualities" back in January, ensuring Alonso's influence is pivotal, as per Radio Nacional de Espana (via Football Espana).
Isco cannot expect to start ahead of the aforementioned three, as his presence may offset a team that is finely balanced both to launch counterattacks and to deal with them. Ancelotti prioritises fast-paced offence but doesn't do so irresponsibly.
Even so, New York Times writer Cristian Nyari imagines a midfield three in which Isco could excel:
Will be fun to watch Kroos-Modric-Isco but Lahm-Schweinsteiger-Thiago will still be a killer midfield.— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) July 17, 2014
Alongside Isco, the likes of Asier Illarramendi and Casemiro may find themselves surplus to requirements. Neither have consistently impressed for Los Blancos and don't match up to the Galactico quality supporters have come to expect. Both are best suited to representing smaller sides on a regular basis rather than spending their time on the bench.
Isco does possess Madrid-level quality but needs a system that plays to his strengths.
Kroos' transfer should be considered a luxury for Real and President Florentino Perez, who is set on stacking quality at the club. While this is excellent from a branding point of view and the team's hunt for silverware, special talents will be pushed out.
Isco possesses the quality to become a Bernabeu legend. At 22 years old, he needs to be playing regularly and developing alongside world-class stars. As we've also seen with Alvaro Morata, an overload of elite names makes this extremely difficult. Kroos is a fantastic signing, but his addition is likely to come at Isco's expense.