Real Madrid Signing James Rodriguez Puts Isco's Status in Doubt

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Real Madrid Signing James Rodriguez Puts Isco's Status in Doubt
Paul White/Associated Press

James Rodriguez, who just returned to Monaco after a terrific World Cup, is set to join Real Madrid, as per French paper L'Equipe (via Tom Sheen of The Independent). As a result of this potential move, Isco's place within the squad is now in jeopardy.

Isco turned a lot of heads in the 2012-13 season when he was with Malaga. The 22-year-old was Manuel Pellegrini's best player and also the catalyst during the club's run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Alex Grimm/Getty Images
Isco was integral to Spain's European Under-21 Championship.

Those incredible performances continued at the 2013 European Under-21 Championships. Isco was a key figure in Spain capturing the title, scoring in the final three games, including the semi-final and the final.

Shortly after the tournament ended, the Spaniard earned a move to Real Madrid, as per UEFA.com. With Carlo Ancelotti being brought in as manager, everyone raved about what the Italian tactician could do with his new starlet.

Fast forward a year, and it's been a different story. Isco had 44 appearances, scoring 12 goals and four assists in all competitions in 2012-13 for Malaga, as per ESPN FC

Isco still played in 44 games with Madrid, but 15 of them were as a substitute, as per WhoScored.com. Toward the latter half of 2013-14, his minutes were reduced as Ancelotti preferred Angel Di Maria in the midfield of a 4-3-3.

Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo made up the front line, so there was no room for Isco in the starting line-up. 

Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Isco's playing time was reduced a few months into the 2013-14 season.

Despite the lack of playing time in the last few months, Isco still put up impressive numbers. He had 11 goals and seven assists in La Liga and the Champions League combined, as per WhoScored.com. Compared with his last season at Malaga, it was just as impressive.

Now with Rodriguez set to join the fray, Isco's future with Los Blancos is in doubt. James can play in behind the striker or out wide if necessary, which is exactly where the former Malaga star operates.

Ancelotti may have to tinker with his tactics slightly to fit in his potential new signing, but either way, Isco probably won't have a significant role in his manager's plans.

The vultures who want to acquire Isco are already circling.

Liverpool has been one of the clubs linked with the Spanish attacker, as per Vaishali Bhardwaj of English newspaper Metro. However, the player wants to stay, as per Heath Chesters of Inside Spanish Football. Staying would be a silly decision considering whom the youngster has to compete with for a spot.

Assuming Isco is sold, Liverpool would benefit greatly, but that would mean Philippe Coutinho's minutes could be reduced to accommodate the Spaniard. Sevilla is a team that would definitely work, but no Champions League football and huge debt could stunt that move.

AC Milan is in the same boat as Sevilla. Having no European competition means that the Rossoneri would have to pay significantly higher wages than everyone else to have a chance at signing the tricky attacker.

According to Ulises Sanchez-Flor of Spanish newspaper Marca, Isco makes around €2 million ($2.7 million) per season. The highest-paid Milan player is Mario Balotelli at €4 million ($5.4 million), as per Italian paper La Gazzetta dello Sport (via the Rossoneri Blog). Kaka recently inked a deal with Orlando City, so it's unlikely that president Silvio Berlusconi will pay another player that kind of money.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Angel Di Maria's spot is in jeopardy, but he might stay put.

If Isco eventually leaves, he will be a terrific addition for any club that grabs him. Even Di Maria's spot isn't guaranteed with Rodriguez arriving. However, Ancelotti is against a sale at this time, according to Spanish newspaper AS (h/t Football Espana).

This will be an interesting summer for Real Madrid if they end up capturing James. Some very talented players could hit the market, including Isco. That means that some contenders could strengthen and add some drama this season.

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