With Henrikh Mkhitaryan now officially an Inter player and Roma searching far and wide for a suitable replacement, the Giallorossi are turning back to one of this summer's first transfer targets: free-agent midfielder Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez. Better known as Isco, the 30-year-old Spanish midfielder recently saw his near-decade-long run with Real Madrid come to a rather unceremonious ending, as the crafty veteran garnered a measly 267 league minutes this past season.
While he's not cut from the exact same cloth as Mkhitaryan, Isco possesses many of the same skills as his Armenian counterpart, bringing an enticing blend of tactical flexibility and playmaking prowess to the pitch. Despite that impressive skillset, Isco's standing with Real Madrid was never really commensurate with his talent, as his playing time dropped dramatically over the past several years. In fact, Isco hasn't logged more than 2,000 league minutes since the 2014-2015 season.
Nevertheless, at only 30-years-old and with a relatively injury-free career, Isco promises to have several years of productivity left. But where he'd be taking his talents next season remained a point of conjecture for the past several weeks.
Well, conject no more (that's a word, right?). According to the Spanish paper AS, Isco, who is being tracked by clubs as varied as Sevilla, Real Betis, and Newscastle, could sign with Roma as early as next week. With so many suitors after him, it's fair to question why Isco would trade the bright lights of the Bernabeau for the rotund running track at the Stadio Olimpico, but Isco and José Mourinho's shared agent, Jorge Mendes, could be the tie that binds these two together.
While AS doesn't get into the muddy contractual waters of this potential deal, Roma may be able to offer Isco something no other club can: an actual role—and an important one at that. Mkhitaryan may not have been a spring chicken, but he made 75 league starts for Roma over the past three seasons, and now that he's gone, someone has to fill that void.
Capable of playing a variety of midfield roles, and even a few spot appearances out wide, Isco is perhaps the best Mkhitaryan facsimile available on the market this summer. If Tiago Pinto, José Mourinho, and Jorge Mendes can pull this deal together next week, Isco could be a seamless fit for the second season of Roma's Mourinho Makeover.
Stay tuned. It's been a slow start to silly season for the Giallorossi, but with a flurry of moves close to completion, July promises to be an exciting time in the Eternal City.