Isco scores delicious chip during Spain’s practice


Remember Isco?

You know, the 22-year-old attacking midfielder whom Real Madrid bought for $38 million two summers ago only to become the world’s most expensive bench-warmer?

Yeah, that guy apparently still knows how to play football, judging from this video from a recent Spain practice:

We wouldn’t be surprised if this tape shows up “anonymously” at Carlo Ancelotti’s doorstep today.

H/T 101GG


Manchester City to make summer move for Isco

Once bitten, twice shy? Not Manchester City. They may have been snubbed by the Spanish midfielder last year but City are planning to try their luck again by making a bid in the summer for a player that is struggling to get game time at Real Madrid.

We’ve also got the latest news on a big-name player linked with Chelsea, just click here for more.


Real search for bargain Rooney deal


Real Madrid already have an array of the world’s top stars, but they seem determined to improve further still. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Isco would provide enough flair for most teams. Madrid, however, seem destined to increase those levels in the summer.

In today’s newspapers Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is linked with a move to the Spanish giants. They are reportedly hoping Rooney stalls on a new contract so they can snatch him for a bargain price.

For this rumor and the rest of Sunday’s transfer gossip, click here.


Special Inside Look: Spain’s Ciudad del Futbol


Image provided by Dermot Corrigan / FOX Soccer


Wednesday evening in Madrid — and hundreds of kids are training at the Spanish football federation’s Ciudad del Futbol campus. Their sessions over, they grab a quick drink of water, then quickly gather in the small stand beside the suburban facility’s biggest pitch, to watch national coach Vicente del Bosque run his World Cup holders through their paces ahead of their crucial upcoming qualifiers for the 2014 finals.

The young spectators cheered and squealed as their heroes completed a light warm-up, then a series of ‘rondos’ — piggy-in-the-middle-style exercises where good technique is key and a sense of humor helps. Being a public session, no tactical secrets were displayed, but Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta had recovered from minor knocks to take part. Spain looks ready for the clashes with Belarus in Mallorca on Friday, and then Georgia in Albacete next Tuesday, when four points will seal qualification for Brazil next summer.

 If, as expected, Spain win on Friday, del Bosque may use the Georgia game for experimentation and give Swansea city attacker Michu a first cap. The Swansea attacker told reporters at the Cuidad de Futbol on Wednesday morning that he’d been a little awestruck at first when training alongside so many world champions — but was now ready to stake his claim for a regular squad spot.

Image provided by Getty

“When you step out on the grass, with the [World Cup winner] star on your chest, the sensation is indescribable,” Michu said. “I was a little nervous to be playing with the best players in the world, but you settle down quickly. I am here to make the most of the opportunity — and to help Spain qualify for the World Cup.”

The gap between Michu’s press conference and training left time to visit the impressive campus’ excellent museum — which shows visitors just what soccer means in Spain. The exhibits begin with a search for the sport’s origins in ancient China, Egypt, Greece, Mexico and Scotland, then fast forward to the early 20th century as young king Alfonso XIII oversees its introduction here.

Xavi Hernandez, Iker Casillas and Fernando Torres — dressed in period gear — guide you through a time tunnel to a 1930s pre-Civil War dressing room. Among the other life-sized dioramas is a 1950s film-set from when General Franco’s regime “persuaded” Real Madrid’s Alfredo Di Stefano and Barcelona’s Ladislao Kubala to star in feature length propaganda pictures.

Big sections cover the 1964 European Championships, which Spain won; and the 1982 World Cup, which Spain hosted but flopped at. The tour ends on a high — with the Henri Delaunay [European Championship] and Jules Rimet [World Cup] trophies on display, alongside jerseys and footballs from their victories in the last three major international tournaments. There’s also the actual 2010 final locker-room flipchart, with del Bosque’s detailed handwritten instructions for defending Holland’s set pieces.


Image provided by Dermot Corrigan / FOX Soccer

Once qualification is assured for next year’s tournament, del Bosque can ponder how to best retain the trophy. Selection decisions must be made on players including Michu, Casillas, Torres, David Villa, Carles Puyol, Juan Mata, Koke, Isco and – most controversially – Brazilian-born Diego Costa.

But all that can wait for now. Wednesday’s session ended with a friendly mini-game, before the sun set behind the nearby Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, and the players, children and journalists headed home for their suppers.

Another day at one of world soccer’s most important nerve centers — with Brazil 2014 on the horizon.


Busted: Recent Real Madrid signee Isco has a dog named Messi


In the words of Ricky Ricardo, Real Madrid’s Isco “has some splainin’ to do.”

Unless you have been living under a rock, it’s pretty clear that Real Madrid fans and Barcelona fans do not get along and do not like each other one bit. Just imagine if one of your star players actually liked the opposing team.

It has been revealed by Barcelona newspaper El Mundo Deportivo that not only is Isco a lifelong Barcelona fan, he also has a dog named Messi.

Moreover, he revealed his dislike for his new club back in 2009:

”I’ve always been a bit antimadridista and I still am. I have the feeling it’s an arrogant club, and without humility you don’t get anywhere.’‘

Isco’s Real Madrid unveiling just turned into must-watch TV.

H/T 101GG


City enter striker chase in Pole position


With the departure of Carlos Tevez to Juventus for around $15million, Manchester City are now on the hunt for a new striker. Edinson Cavani’s heart seems to be set on a move to Real Madrid, while Wayne Rooney’s unlikely to risk a Manchester meltdown by crossing the divide from red to blue.

So, who’s left? Well, new boss Manuel Pellegrini has earmarked Borussia Dortmund hotshot Robert Lewandowski as the guy to fire them to league and European glory. The Polish striker has been courted by many huge clubs over the past couple of years, but an outstanding season last time out might finally persuade a club to put some money where their mouth is. As we know, money’s hardly a problem for City, so this could be a match made in heaven.

Today’s edition also includes updates on the futures of Cavani, Isco, Gareth Bale and many more. Just click here to find out.


Manchester City eye Spanish duo Isco, Thiago


Isco is one of the most in-demand young players in Europe right now, with Manchester City and Real Madrid both making a play for the Malaga playmaker.

According to Friday morning’s papers, a decision is close to being announced, with City being the most likely destination for the Spain Under-21 star.

Isco could be joined in Manchester by his international team-mate Thiago Alcantara, but Bayern Munich have emerged as a rival to United for the Barca youngster’s signature.

Check out more on these stories and the rest of the morning’s headlines here.


Arsenal readies bid for Real Madrid’s Higuain


Desperate for some extra firepower before the next campaign, Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger has been linked with some of Europe’s top strikers.

However one name that has been constantly linked with the Gunners this summer is Real Madrid’s Argentine striker, Gonzalo Higuain. The 25-year-old has been looking for a way out of Madrid for some time with playing opportunities becoming limited and Real willing to sell the player for the right price.

Real Madrid continues to dominate the news as the battle for Isco hots up with Manchester City and there’s more on the future of Robert Lewandowski. For all these big rumors and more visit today’s Paper Chase.


Fer real? Torres wanted by Barcelona


Fernando Torres dominates today’s Paper Chase amid speculation he is wanted by…wait for it..Barcelona. It’s certainly one of the more unusual transfer rumors we’ve heard for a while, although one of the papers believes Barca only want him as a ‘super-sub’. Click here for this and more on the futures of Malaga midfielder Isco, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marouane Fellaini and Demba Ba.