Real Madrid appear to have stolen a march on Manchester City in the race to sign Malaga starlet Isco after the player's father and Malaga executives were snapped driving into Madrid's Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
It had appeared that Isco was likely to move with his current coach Manuel Pellegrini to City this summer. However, Madrid now look favourites to clinch his signature after Blancos representative Julio Senn, Malaga sporting director Mario Husillos, Malaga director general Vicente Casado, Isco's father Francisco Alarcon and the player's lawyer Rafael Comino were all photographed packed into a car driving into the stadium.
Reports in Spain suggest Madrid president Florentino Perez is keen to sign the Andalucian as part of a new 'buy Spanish' policy, and is willing to meet the €35 million release clause in his contract, but would prefer to include some players in part-exchange.
Marca has the talented playmaker on their cover on Thursday morning, and says Madrid's first offer was €20 million plus winger Jose Callejon, while AS claims Malaga would prefer young centre-forward Alvaro Morata was included in the deal, which would be sealed ahead of Madrid's presidential elections on June 16.
Given Pellegrini's relationship with the player, and City sporting director Txiki Begiristain's known interest, the English club could still make a new attempt to take him to Eastlands. Either way it looks certain now that the player will leave Malaga this summer. Boquerones executive Francisco Martin Aguilar told Radio Marca that a move was likely, and would suit all parties.
"We are proud that a kid who came out of Malaga has triumphed," Martin Aguilar said. "If he does go to a big club, it will benefit the club's finances. There is a lot of interest in him, but nothing official."