Man City plot Real Madrid raid for Pellegrini’s former pupil

It looks like one of Rafael Benitez’s first tasks as Real Madrid’s new manager will involve a judgement call on the future of Spain midfielder Isco at the club.

Reports in the Daily Mail indicate the 23-year-old is likely to become the subject of a bid from Manchester City, who, the paper says view him as the perfect long-term replacement for countryman David Silva, 29.

Isco and his fine footballing brain are very familiar to Citizens boss Manuel Pellegrini, who coached the Madrid schemer at Malaga, where they both placed themselves in the shop window after a run through to the 2012/13 Champions League knockout stages.

During the summer which followed Pellegrini headed for Manchester and Isco made his own big-money move to the Spanish giants for a fee of £23m.

Isco was the first signing of outgoing Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti, but despite appearing 106 times for Los Blancos since, scoring 17 goals, the attacking midfielder has often found himself frustrated by the rotation policy.

The eight-cap Spain international’s position in the side was further squeezed by the arrival of Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez after last summer’s World Cup.

With the ink barely dry on Rafa’s own three-year contract at the Bernabeu, the former Napoli boss is sure to want time to properly assess his playing staff before sanctioning any moves.

However, it has become customary that at least one big name is let go by the 10-time European champions each summer to free up funds for the arrival of another so-called ‘Galactico’, with Angel Di Maria the fall guy for Rodriguez.

If City are prepared to pay the rumoured asking price of around £32m, then this deal has more than a smattering of credence as the deposed Premier League champions look to reshuffle their pack in order to challenge again next term.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.