Liverpool's transfer business continues apace as Brendan Rodgers looks to restructure his team for a renewed assault on the Premier League title and also compete in the Champions League in 2014-15.
While the likes of Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic and Rickie Lambert have already joined, it seems that the attacking ranks are not yet finalised for Rodgers' Reds. Real Madrid's Isco is the latest linked name, as reported by Spanish daily AS (via Metro's Vaishali Bhardwaj).
The Reds are reportedly looking to sign the Spaniard on a permanent transfer—and he would certainly make an impressive addition to the current squad.
Real's "New Generation"
Last summer, Real moved away from signing only big-name players to bring in the new age of Real Madrid, focusing on Spanish players and youthful talent who could improve the side but also be the new faces of the team.
Dani Carvajal, Asier Illarramendi and, of course, Isco were all signed with this in mind...but it didn't last long, with only right-back Carvajal still in the team by the time the Champions League final came around. Isco was still used as an impact substitute, but Illarra's time on the pitch had decreased significantly.
A year on from the trio's arrival and Real have signed Toni Kroos and look ready to add James Rodriguez to their squad, according to The Guardian, significantly taking down the game time available to either Illarra or Isco.
Rodgers and No. 10s
A creative No. 10 player has been on the manager's wish list for some time, even after he brought Philippe Coutinho to the club in January 2013. Moves for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Willian failed to materialise, and Raheem Sterling was utilised centrally to great effect last season.
However, any incoming attacking midfielder needs to have the versatility to not only play behind the strikers, but also either as a second forward himself or further wide—allowing Isco, or similar new arrival, to play in the 4-3-3 system frequently used by the Reds.
Isco at the point of a midfield diamond, of course, fits perfectly with Liverpool's attacking emphasis from last season. Loic Remy is seemingly close to an Anfield move, as per BBC Sport, which will give the Reds three natural strikers to choose from when a diamond is combined with two forwards.
Isco in the side doesn't negate other summer signings or last season's attacking stars, though. A handful of times the Reds used a diamond midfield, one centre-forward and one free-roaming attacker—often Raheem Sterling—who floated from channel to channel and essentially made up ground to be the second forward whenever he could.
Isco at Anfield
Having seen Luis Suarez depart, Liverpool need three things from their summer replacements to ensure the Uruguayan is not too sorely missed: goals, creativity and work ethic.
Players who combine all three traits are difficult to find, so the Reds must wisely replace by numbers.
Remy and Lambert could, together, provide a similar number of goals to the departed No. 7, while Markovic and Lallana will be expected to create a constant flow of chances as well as add goals themselves.
Isco would bring plenty of both: He has shown the capacity to be a scorer from the second line of attack, netting 11 goals in around 3,100 minutes across three competitions last term—one every three full games or so. He also averaged more than two key passes per game for Real, 71 chances created across his La Liga season, similar to the likes of Ivan Rakitic (78) and Koke (68).
The season previous, Isco managed 12 goals for Malaga, again playing in the Champions League, something which too few of the current Reds squad have the experience of.
A final, intangible value that Isco signing for Liverpool would bring would be the "star signing" factor, the marquee arrival supporters look for.
At just 22 years of age he has a lot of growth remaining in him, yet is already a full Spanish international and has proved he is more than capable of handling the expectation of playing for a huge club.
His failure to remain a part of the Real team over the final months of the season was down to a tactical switch rather than his own poor form, and Isco would certainly stand out with his prodigious talent if the Reds were able to seal a permanent move for him.