Real Madrid's Isco 'never listened to any offers' from elsewhere
Isco says he did not listen to any offers from other clubs, despite speculation that he considered moves to Barcelona, Manchester City and Juventus when his contract was running down and he was not regularly starting games for Real Madrid.
The 25-year-old has forced his way into Zinedine Zidane's first XI in recent months with a string of excellent performances, and has now ended speculation over his future by signing a new contract tying him to Madrid until June 2022.
The new deal reportedly has a €700 million release clause, which Marca says is to ward off potential suitors, while there were also rumours at various points in recent seasons that Barcelona were hoping to take advantage of his unhappiness at spending so much time on the bench to tempt him to the Camp Nou.
Speaking at the Bernabeu after he put pen to paper on the new deal, the Spain international said there had been some "bad moments" he had never considered the idea of moving to another club.
"I never listened to any offers," Isco said. "My idea was always to be a success at Real Madrid. It's true that there have been some bad moments, but that makes me enjoy more the good times. I have won three Champions Leagues. You have to be ready to take your chance when it comes. I have had patience and am getting the reward for that now."
The situation was quite different last autumn when Isco admitted he could look for opportunities elsewhere after he was little-used in big games early last season, and even whistled by his own team's fans after a poor showing in a 2-2 home draw with Eibar.
Asked why he was only renewing now, less than a year before his previous deal ended in June 2018, he said there had been a new offer on the table from Madrid but he personally had decided to wait.
"That is not important," he said. "Not all players are the same, I could have renewed last year. But I was focused on playing and preferred to push it back. Sometimes in life we think of other things, but our decisions are important in the direction we take. I decided to stay, I hope for many years. I had the patience to know to wait when I did not have chances to play, but my idea was always clear, to be a success at Real Madrid."
Isco added he had improved as a player recently, and cited coach Zidane's influence on his game.
"It's true I have grown as a player, I have improved," he said. "Now I score more goals as I play closer to the penalty area. Zizou has been very important for me."
Isco's emergence as a key first-team player has seen Zidane switch to a 4-4-2 shape for many games, putting pressure the previously undroppable "BBC" attacking trident of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.
"We have a very competitive squad, and we are all starters," he said. "I feel very important for the team. I want to consolidate myself as a starter here."
Isco's event on Friday followed the announcement earlier this week of a contract extension for teammate Marcelo, with other Madrid players including Karim Benzema and Nacho Fernandez reportedly also set to follow suit in the coming weeks.
Coach Zidane also reportedly has a bumper new deal in the works following his success in his first 20 months in charge.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan