Chelsea are being linked with two attacking midfielders early in the January transfer window, as the Blues have reportedly turned their attention to Real Madrid star Isco amid rumours a deal for Shakhtar Donetsk's Alex Teixeira is close.
Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard reports the Blues are in advanced talks regarding a £30 million move for the latter, but obviously, the former would be a far bigger capture.
Speculation regarding Isco's future has run rampant of late, and the 23-year-old sits at the top of Bleacher Report's list of stars likely to move, per Marcus Streller, Dean Jones and Sam Tighe:
Johnson believes Real will do everything possible not to sell the youngster in January, and any move for Isco will be complicated by the club's decision to sack Rafa Benitez and appoint Zinedine Zidane as their new manager, per ESPN FC.
Zidane will take his time evaluating the squad and finding a perfect balance in his starting XI, which could open the door for a bigger role for Isco. But the same was believed after Carlos Ancelotti was replaced by Benitez, and a spot on the bench has become the norm for Isco.
Per WhoScored.com, he has started nine La Liga matches this season, with the bulk of those coming while James Rodriguez was absent due to injury. Isco was dropped for the crucial Clasico against Barcelona despite Rodriguez's lack of form, another reminder of his place in the pecking order.
It's rare to see a gifted young player like Isco seemingly available for the right fee, but given Real's abundance of attacking talent, it shouldn't come as a major surprise. Isco's spot has been under threat ever since the arrival of Rodriguez, and if he continues to get passed over, he'll openly start demanding a transfer before long.
Here's a look at why he'll be such a highly sought-after player if it becomes clear he's set to leave the Spanish capital:
Johnson states both Manchester City and Juventus are looking hard at the playmaker, and while the former doesn't have a real need for his services―it's already hard enough to balance David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in the same side―the Bianconeri will be fierce competitors for his signature.
Real and Juventus have a healthy working relationship, evidenced by Alvaro Morata's move to Turin in 2014, and a similar deal could be a possibility. The Italians agreed to a buy-back clause in that deal, and Los Blancos would likely suggest something similar for Isco.
Chelsea have more money to work with, however, and could entice both the player and the club with a higher transfer fee and bigger wages. A January move remains unlikely, but the Blues will undoubtedly watch how Isco fares under Zidane.
Teixeira would present a more immediate solution, as the Brazilian is likely to leave Ukraine during the ongoing transfer window. Per WhoScored.com, he has scored a monstrous 22 goals in 15 Ukrainian Premier League matches―he has clearly outgrown Shakhtar and is ready for something bigger.
Have a look at some of his highlights:
The 25-year-old is a mobile midfielder with superb vision and obvious scoring potential, although it's important to remember he's currently putting up numbers in the Ukrainian Premier League, which is hardly a top league on the continent. Fans shouldn't expect his production to carry over to England, although he would be a fine addition.
The likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Cesc Fabregas have all struggled at certain points this season, and it wouldn't hurt adding an in-form option with a keen eye for goal. Teixeira is an excellent player and a natural replacement for Oscar, who has shown flashes of his brilliance but can go through massive dips for weeks on end.