The Redemption of Isco Alarcón at Real Betis

Isco Alarcón is one of the most talented and creative players in Spanish football. Born in Benalmádena, Málaga, on April 21, 1992, he began his professional career with Valencia C. F., making his debut in 2010. The following year, he signed with Málaga C. F., where he became a star for the team that reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2013. That same year, he was named the best young player in Europe by the Italian newspaper Tuttosport.


His outstanding performance attracted the interest of Real Madrid C. F., which signed him in 2013 for 30 million euros. With the white club, Isco won 16 titles, including four Champions League trophies, two La Liga titles, and two Copa del Rey titles. In his first season, 2013/14, he played 53 matches, scoring 11 goals and providing 9 assists. He was a starter in the Copa del Rey final, which Real Madrid won 2-1 against Barcelona, and in the Champions League final, where Real Madrid defeated Atlético de Madrid 4-1 in extra time. This marked his first double of titles with the team.


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In the 2014/15 season, Isco had a more prominent role, playing 53 matches, scoring 6 goals, and providing 16 assists. He was a key player as Real Madrid won the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup. Despite falling short in the Copa del Rey and La Liga, Isco was named the best midfielder in La Liga.


During the 2015/16 season, Isco’s importance diminished with the arrival of Rafa Benítez and later the return of Zinedine Zidane. Nevertheless, he participated in 43 matches, scoring 5 goals and providing 12 assists. He was a substitute in the Champions League final, where Real Madrid won against Atlético de Madrid on penalties after a 1-1 draw in regular time.


In the 2016/17 season, Isco had one of his best seasons with Real Madrid, playing a crucial role in winning the La Liga and Champions League double. He played 42 matches, scoring 11 goals and providing 10 assists. Notably, he shone in decisive matches, such as the Clásico against Barcelona and the Champions League semifinal against Atlético de Madrid.


Moving to the 2017/18 season, Isco remained an important player for Zidane, contributing to victories in the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup. Despite an uneven performance, he played a role in winning the Champions League final against Liverpool.


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In the 2018/19 season, Isco experienced his worst season with Real Madrid, facing health issues and strained relations with coach Santiago Solari. He played only 27 matches, scoring 6 goals and providing 2 assists. Real Madrid failed to win any titles and was eliminated in the Champions League by Ajax.


The 2019/20 season saw Isco return under Zidane’s management, but he struggled to regain his peak form. Playing 30 matches, he scored 3 goals and provided 2 assists. Real Madrid won the Supercopa de España but was eliminated in the Champions League by Manchester City.


In the 2020/21 season, Isco had a peripheral role, playing only 20 matches and contributing 1 goal and 1 assist. He left Real Madrid in the 2021/22 season, joining Sevilla on loan during the winter transfer window. However, his time at Sevilla was not successful, and he played only 11 matches, scoring 1 goal and providing 1 assist.


Isco joined Betis on July 26, 2022, from Sevilla, where he had a challenging experience. Betis signed him as the replacement for Sergio Canales, and Isco agreed to a one-season contract, with an option for another, accepting a salary reduction to play for the green-and-white team.


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Reuniting with Manuel Pellegrini, the coach who gave him his debut at Valencia in 2010, Isco found renewed confidence and joy at Betis. Pellegrini played a key role in Isco’s transfer to Betis, expressing confidence in the player’s ability to regain his best form. Isco, in turn, expressed gratitude and happiness to work again with the Chilean coach, whom he considers “very important” in his career.


Undergoing a rigorous training and nutrition plan to improve his physical condition after seven months without competition, Isco surprised Betis with positive results in his medical examination, confirming he was leaner and fitter than expected.


Although he couldn’t debut in the first match of the season against Villarreal due to not being fully fit, Isco made his Betis debut in the second round against Alavés. Since then, he has become a key player for Betis, starting in all matches played, scoring two goals (against Granada and Celta), and providing two assists. Moreover, he leads Betis in passes, dribbles, and crosses in the current season.


Isco has regained his smile and confidence at Betis, once again displaying the exceptional level that dazzled at Málaga and Real Madrid. Pellegrini has granted him the freedom and responsibility to be the team’s leader, and Isco has responded with hard work, commitment, and performance. Betis renewed his contract until 2027, with a release clause of 50 million euros.


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Isco has been the standout player for Betis in the first half of the season, helping the team qualify for the Europa League Round of 16, with the Verdiblancos currently sitting seventh in the table with 31 points, one behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad, two points above Valencia and three above newly promoted Las Palmas.


He was voted the best player of the month by the Betis fans in December and was also included in LaLiga’s ideal eleven, following that up by scoring a late winner in their 1-0 victory at home against Granada. At 31 years of age, Isco Disco is showing that there’s still plenty of oil left in the tank, and the Benito Villamarín faithful can relish in the renaissance of one of Spanish football’s most appetizing technicians.


By: Juanjo Montero / @JJMont3ro

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Quality Sport Images / Getty Images