According to reports from OK Diario, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti is keen to reunite with Real Madrid midfielder Isco at Goodison Park.
The Spanish publication claims that while the attacking midfielder is still happy at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid are willing to listen to offers because they’re disappointed with his performance levels.
Los Blancos believe they can fetch around €20m (£17.96m) for the Spain international, but they would also allow him to go out on loan in January for the remainder of the season.
And Ancelotti reportedly sees this is a prime opportunity to snap up Isco, who enjoyed arguably his best seasons at Real Madrid playing under the Italian.
In 2013/14, when Ancelotti lead Real Madrid to the Champions League title, Isco amassed eleven goals and nine assists across all competitions.
Isco’s fallen well below those standards recently, only scoring four goals in his last two full La Liga campaigns but he’d no doubt be another big-name signing for Everton following the summer arrival of James Rodriguez.
That suggests he’d be a wise acquisition for the Toffees, but could there be unforeseen ramifications in bringing Isco to Merseyside? GIVEMESPORT consider three potential consequences of Everton signing the Real Madrid man…
Sigurdsson and Bernard sold
Gylfi Sigurdsson may currently serve as Everton’s vice-captain but his time at Goodison Park is surely coming to an end and landing a likeminded midfielder in Isco might well be the final nail in the coffin.
While the Icelander enjoyed an affluent 2018/19 campaign on Merseyside, since the start of last season he’s managed just two goals and four assists in the Premier League, and it’s telling that his position in the team has changed from a No.10 to a deeper-lying midfielder.
Now 31 and verging on the final 18 months of his contract, there’s an obvious logic to casting Sigurdsson aside once Isco’s services are sealed, if not for the fact the Real Madrid playmaker will likely be on some pretty big wages and Sigurdsson is one of Everton’s highest earners.
A similar point can be made for Bernard. While the 28-year-old has proved himself a useful member of Everton’s squad over the last few years, his primary positions are No.10 and the left wing which is the exact space where Isco likes to operate.
The Brazilian isn’t an automatic starter anyway, so Isco’s arrival only pushes him further down the pecking order, and with wages of £120k per-week, there’s little sense in keeping both players on the books.
Change in formation
Ancelotti has used a 4-3-3 system almost exclusively in the Premier League this season, barring one fixture in which his side lost to Newcastle playing an incredibly static 4-3-2-1.
Signing Isco though would likely require a change in formation to get him on the pitch at the same time as Everton’s other key attacking players - top scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin, chief creator Rodriguez and winger-forward Richarlison.
Isco has operated in central midfield for Real Madrid before but a deeper role might see him outmuscled a lot more in the Premier League, and ultimately he needs to be playing in between the engine room and the attack if Everton are to get the best out of him.
The most logical solution is a 4-2-3-1, with Isco, Richarlison and Rodriguez forming an incredibly exciting attacking midfield hub behind Calvert-Lewin as the sole striker. Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure are well suited to the holding roles as well, while the backline requires no obvious changes.
It’s a convincing setup at first glance, albeit perhaps a little too top heavy for when the Toffees face elite opposition.
Balance between Everton’s identity and big names becomes even more crucial
While Marcel Brands deserves plenty of credit for some the signings he’s overseen as Everton’s Director of Football, there has been a clear pattern to them, with the vast majority being players deemed surplus to requirements by Europe’s biggest clubs.
Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina, Alex Iwobi, Andre Gomes, Moise Kean and Rodriguez all fall into that category, and so would Isco too.
In theory, there’s nothing wrong with that approach - more often than not, you only end up playing for the top clubs around if you’re a player of significant natural pedigree.
But at the same time, an important balance must be struck. Everton still need to be instrumentally Evertonian and must avoid falling into the trap of essentially becoming a dumping ground for high-earning players who feel like they’ve made a step down in going to Goodison.
That then creates problems in motivation levels and natural desire. Part of that falls on Ancelotti to keep everyone focused and committed to the cause, but the more star-studded Everton’s squad becomes, the bigger an issue that will inevitably be.
It’s a delicate balancing act and ultimately, Everton need to offset signings like Isco by integrating academy products who truly appreciate what it means to play for the club, like Anthony Gordon, or making acquisitions from lower down the Premier League or the Football League, like Ben Godfrey.
These players will have an inner sense of feeling like they owe something to Everton, a natural desperation to perform, which those who’ve already reached the very top of the game may well lack at Goodison.
Brands and Ancelotti need to work together to strike the right balance, especially when bringing in a four-time Champions League winner.
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