With Henrikh Mkhitaryan now officially a member of Inter and Roma looking for a suitable replacement, the Giallorossi are returning to one of the summer’s early transfer targets: free-agent midfielder Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez. The 30-year-old Spanish midfielder, better known as Isco, recently had his near-decade-long stint with Real Madrid come to an unceremonious conclusion, as the clever veteran got just 267 league minutes this past season.
While he is not the same as Mkhitaryan, Isco boasts many of the same qualities as his Armenian opponent, bringing an exciting combination of tactical versatility and playmaking brilliance to the game. Despite his exceptional skill set, Isco’s position at Real Madrid was never quite proportionate with his quality, as his playing time has declined considerably in recent years. In reality, Isco hasn’t played more than 2,000 minutes in the league since the 2014-2015 season.
Nonetheless, at just 30 years old and with a reasonably injury-free career, Isco has many years of production ahead of him. But where he will take his abilities next season has been a source of speculation for some weeks.
So, no more conjecture (is that a word?). According to the Spanish newspaper AS, Isco, who is being pursued by teams like Sevilla, Real Betis, and Newscastle, might join Roma as soon as next week. With so many suitors vying for Isco, it’s understandable to wonder why he’d swap the bright lights of the Bernabeau for the rotund jogging track of the Stadio Olimpico, but Isco and José Mourinho’s same agent, Jorge Mendes, might be the knot that ties these two together.
While AS avoids getting into the murky contractual waters of any prospective trade, Roma may be able to give Isco what no other club can: a real role—and a crucial one at that. Mkhitaryan was no spring bird, but he made 75 league starts for Roma over the last three seasons, and now that he’s gone, someone has to replace that vacuum.
Isco is possibly the finest Mkhitaryan impersonator on the market this summer, capable of playing a range of midfield positions and even a few spot appearances out wide. If Tiago Pinto, José Mourinho, and Jorge Mendes can pull this off next week, Isco may be a natural fit for Roma’s Mourinho Makeover season two.