The admission by Real Madrid midfielder Isco that he will consider his future at the end of the season should set alarm bells ringing at every major club in Europe.
Firstly, his words will certainly make an impression at the Bernabeu, whose hierarchy will now be aware that Isco is ready to negotiate his future rather than commit himself to his current club no matter what.
President Florentine Perez and manager Zinedine Zidane will have to make a decision: do they give Isco the ‘Galactico’ status he has so far been denied, or do they risk losing him?
If the latter course of action is taken, there will be no shortage of suitors for a player whose undoubted talent would make him probably the biggest catch in the summer transfer market.
For starters, Isco would be a terrific signing for Barcelona. In terms of playing style and position he is one of the closest players in the world to Andres Iniesta, and would be the perfect signing to reinvigorate a midfield which has stagnated in the last couple of years – especially as the 24-year-old was a boyhood Barca fan, with a pet dog named Messi to boot.
However, it’s highly unlikely that Madrid would be prepared to sell such a top-class player to their biggest direct rivals, and as nobody else in Spain would be able to afford him Isco would probably have to look away from his homeland for his next move. And around Europe, it’s easy to identify several major clubs who would jump at the chance to sign Isco.
Top of the list, perhaps, would be Manchester City, whose manager Pep Guardiola would find a perfect player for his key priorities of maintaining possession and pressing with energy when it is lost. At 31, David Silva still produces incredible moments but his overall contribution and consistency will inevitably soon start to drop.
Another potential destination for Isco is Paris Saint-Germain, where coach Unai Emery knows all about his talents from his time in Spain. Indeed, Emery was the man who gave Isco his senior debut at Valencia before he was whisked away by Malaga.
There would be many more interested clubs, no doubt, but that is all dependent upon whether Madrid let him go.
There’s no real reason they would want to, because Isco has been a regular and significant member of the team in the last four years, and even though he has rarely been a first-choice selection the squad depth would be much poorer for his departure.
The biggest question is whether Zidane can persuade him to stay by giving him more playing time, especially in the biggest games, which seems uncertain.
Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos are more or less automatic selections in midfield when they are fit, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale equally firmly entrenched in the more attacking positions.
There’s no sign of those six players losing their status in the near future, which means that everyone else – Isco, James Rodriguez, Lucas Vazquez, Alvaro Morata and Marco Asensio – are essentially squad players, gaining minutes against lower opposition but knowing they are highly unlikely to start when the major games roll around.
Isco has been in that position for four years now, and judging by this weekend’s comments he might have decided that is enough. If that’s the case, we can expect a feverish scramble for his signature.