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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Isco trying to ignore Malaga speculation

Malaga starlet Isco admits his future is up in the air, but says that for the moment he is just concentrating on growing as a player at his hometown club.

Malaga starlet Isco celebrates
Isco has grown into a pivotal player for Malaga since returning to his hometown club

The playmaker first joined Malaga’s youth set-up, before spending five years at Valencia, and then returning as a €6 million signing in summer 2011 as the club’s Qatari owners spent big to assemble a team capable of securing Champions League qualification last season.

With the club having since changed to a more austere financial policy, even a new contract signed last January has been widely seen as a step towards a €35 million summer move, with Chelsea reportedly at the head of a long queue of suitors.

The 20-year-old told El Pais that he was very happy playing for Malaga at the moment, but could not say what the future holds.

“Nobody knows about that,” Isco said. “I am here now, tomorrow we will see. I’ve been a Malaga fan since I was small. I was a junior socio (club member) before I left for Valencia, and I am very happy to be here now and learning a lot. We will see what happens next, it is not something that concerns me a lot right now. I am enjoying my life at the moment.”

Isco said he had learned a lot in his two seasons under Manuel Pellegrini at Malaga, coming in as an inexperienced teenager but quickly becoming a key playmaker for a side playing on Europe’s top club stage.

“I arrived aged 19, just a boy, without having played in the first division,” he said. “I came into a dressing room with [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy, [Jeremy] Toulalan and Joaquin.

"I learned something in every training session and every game, I know I am only beginning in football. Pellegrini tells me to just play football, to get on the ball and link up with my teammates. He has given me all the confidence in the world.”

Isco, who made his international debut for Spain as a substitute in February’s 3-1 friendly win over Uruguay and has remained in the squad for this week’s World Cup qualifiers against Finland and France, said that although he was maturing as a team player his game was still about doing individual things and taking risks on the pitch.

“I try to do the best for the team, always,” he said. “Sometimes a trick is the best thing to do. These things that are inside you come out, and you cannot suppress it. My game is like that, a bit from the street, I like doing new things, without forcing it, but trying things.

“I know I need to improve without the ball, but I make an effort moving and finding space away from defenders. At the end of the day, it is about being brave. I believe I am, because I take risks, without fear of losing the ball. I always want the ball. Even in training with Spain, from Xavi [Hernandez] or whoever it may be.”

He also confirmed that he had named his pet dog after Lionel Messi, as the canine shared many characteristics with the Barcelona star.

“It is a labrador, I got it as a present the day after Messi put four goals past Arsenal,” Isco said. “I gave him that name because Messi is the best in the world, and so is my dog.”

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