Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that 30 million euro summer signing Isco is unhappy at his limited playing time in recent months, but says the situation is unlikely to change any time soon.
The 21-year-old began his Madrid career in style, scoring on his full debut against Real Betis in August, before adding three more goals in his next five games.
However, the former Malaga player has rarely featured in recent months, with teammates such as Angel Di Maria, Luka Modric and Jese Rodriguez edging ahead of him in the pecking order.
Ancelotti claims publicly that Isco’s limited playing time is due to the team’s current 4-3-3 system not suiting his strengths, although the attacker’s poor work rate and stamina are also thought to be contributing factors
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s Copa del Rey semifinal second leg against Atletico Madrid -- when Isco is expected to be on the bench again despite his side’s commanding 3-0 advantage from the first leg -- Ancelotti said he accepted a player would not be content if he is not playing regularly.
“I am not here to work for a specific player, but rather to do the best for Real Madrid,” he said. “Sometimes I cannot be the fairest with some players and it is normal that he is not happy. I would not like it if a player was happy about not playing. He has to have the desire to play and I hope that by the end of the season, he and everyone else can say that he was important for the team. He did very well at the start of the season and I have no doubt about how talented he is.”
Some reports have suggested that Madrid president Florentino Perez, who spent big on young Spanish talent including Isco and fellow midfielder Asier Illarramendi last summer, has pressed Ancelotti to play a different system which would help the new signings to shine.
However, the experienced coach does not want Cristiano Ronaldo to have many defensive duties, so he needs the more hardworking Di Maria and Modric in midfield, meaning Isco is now mostly seen as a reserve to Karim Benzema in a central striking role.
Should Isco, who reportedly turned down Manchester City to join Madrid last summer, decide to push for a summer move away from the Santiago Bernabeu, he would be unlikely to lack suitors, although it is hard to imagine Perez sanctioning a sale at this point.