Manchester City 'On Alert' for Isco as Real Madrid Exit Rumours Gain Steam

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2018

Real midfielder Isco controls the ball during a training session at the Doosan arena in Pilsen, Czech Republic, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Viktoria Plzen faces Real Madrid in a Champions League group G soccer match on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Manchester City are reportedly "on alert" as transfer speculation surrounding Real Madrid midfielder Isco continues to pick up steam, and a move could come as early as January.

The Spain international has tumbled down the pecking order in the Spanish capital since Santiago Solari was named manager in October, leading to plenty of rumours.

Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Juventus are also said to be keen on the midfielder, but City are favourites because of their longstanding interest, according to Mundo Deportivo (h/t Joe Bray of the Manchester Evening News).

Tuttosport has also reported on the exit rumours (h/t Football Italia), and AS positioned both City and Juventus as suitors:

AS English @English_AS

Buenos días! On today's @diarioas front page: Juventus and Man City chase Isco - clubs in Serie A and the Premier League are after the Andalusian, who didn't even make the Real Madrid bench in Rome https://t.co/Rca1YbDV8V https://t.co/a5i4QCodtX

According to COPE's Manolo Lama (h/t AS), Isco was dropped from Tuesday's squad to face AS Roma in the Champions League for a "lack of respect" for the manager. COPE reported the midfielder refused to shake Solari's hand after the loss to Eibar on Saturday (h/t Marca), while AS (h/t Football Espana) report the player to be "back to square one" at the Bernabeu.

Isco missed time earlier this season because of appendicitis, halting an excellent start to the season. He had been a regular starter under Julen Lopetegui and one of the team's few bright spots under the former Spain manager.

He returned to training in October but was eased back into the team slowly. Team-mate Dani Ceballos told El Chiringuito his absence had to do with his being out of shape (h/t Goal's Jamie Smith), but he completed two full matches for Spain during the most recent international break, only to return to the Real bench.

According to Tom Allnutt of AFP, Isco's absence against Roma showed there's more going on:

Tom Allnutt @TomAllnuttAFP

And tonight Isco not even on the bench. All not well. https://t.co/6Di4A9yUG0

The 26-year-old has been the subject of transfer speculation for years, as he has struggled to maintain a starting position in the Spanish capital. He's been one of Spain's top performers for a long time but has alternated between spells on the bench and in the starting XI for Real.

Isco hasn't started a match since Solari took over, and a move away from the European champions seems closer than ever. The former Malaga man is no longer a prospect, and while he has shown tremendous patience in the past, his situation seems worse than it has ever been.

UEFA ditched cup-tied regulations for this season, so Isco could present one of the best overall impact players available on the market in January. He's already a decorated star with age on his side and has the versatility to fit into a multitude of systems.

Per Bray, City manager Pep Guardiola is an "admirer" who believes Isco would be a perfect fit for his team. The Sky Blues are never afraid to splash the cash, so they would have to be considered strong suitors should he become available.