The big difference between Isco and James Rodriguez amid Everton’s links with Real Madrid playmaker

The Spain international is said to be a target for the Toffees with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

James Rodriguez and Isco during their time together at Real Madrid. Picture: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

There's always excitement when a bona fide, top-class talent is linked to any club.

There are only a limited number of names that don't require Googling to find out who they play for, what position they play and what their background is.

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Isco falls into that category.

But it'd be fair that Evertonians might have met the transfer link with a degree of caution.

That's because interest in the Real Madrid star emerges less than a month after his former Santiago Bernabeau team-mate, James Rodriguez, departed Goodison Park.

The duo claimed two Champions League titles and a pair of La Liga crowns while sharing a dressing room in the Spanish capital.

Both are technical, mercurial playmakers capable of dazzling against any opposition.

Worryingly, though, both saw their stock jettison at Real. Having been a £63 million signing from Monaco in 2014, Rodriguez ended his Bernabeau career as surplus to requirements.

After his release, he moved to Merseyside. The Colombia international sparkled in several games but plenty of fans were happy to see the back of him after a protracted transfer safa.

And although Isco's still a Madrid player, he is following a similar trajectory.

Real Madrid ace Isco in action. Picture: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images

He was a €30 million recruit when arriving from Malaga in 2013. After claiming four European Cups at Real, he now appears surplus to requirements.

So after trying to offload Rodriguez to any suitor that would take him during the summer, with Qatari outfit Al-Rayyan eventually where he departed, why would Everton take a similar tack? Fool me once and all that.

Recent record

The Toffees have already got rid of someone described as a proverbial luxury player earning a supposed £200,000 per week.

There were several reasons behind the ex-Monaco star’s exit.

One of those was Rodriguez's injury record and if Everton were getting full value for money.

The Colombia international missed 15 Premier League games last season.

In fairness to Isco, he's not been on the treatment table too often recently. Last season, he was sidelined on three separate occasions but only missed a total of four matches.

The concern is the number of games he's played in the past three campaigns. Under various managers, the 29-year-old's not been selected frequently.

In the 2019-20 season, with Julen Lopetegui, Santiago Solari and Zinadine Zidane all holding the reins at various points, Isco notched 23 league games and 30 outings in all competitions.

Last term, he struggled for a look-in under Zidane. He was restricted to just eight La Liga games from the outset, with a further 17 from the bench.

That nadired in him being left out of Spain's squad for Euro 2020.

And since Carlo Ancelotti left Goodison to return to Real, Isco's been a peripheral figure. He's managed just two starts in 10 games so far.

With his contract due to expire at the end of the season, it's scarcely a surprise Real may look to cash in on him in January.

The big difference

For all the similarities at Real, there is perhaps one significant difference between Rodriguez and Isco - their relationship with Rafa Benitez.

James Rodriguez left Everton last month. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The Everton boss managed the pair while in the Bernabeau driving seat between June 2015-January 2016.

It's said that Benitez had somewhat of a fractured rapport with Rodriguez. By December, there were reports they had a poor relationship.

While together in Spain, Rodriguez played just 12 times in the 25 games Benitez took charge of.

Isco, on the other hand, featured in 20 game, while he had to serve a two-match suspension during that period.

It suggests that the ex-Malaga attacking-midfielder is willing to put in the hard yards and match the intensity Benitez demands from his troops.

That was another factor why Rodriguez was shown the Everton exit door.

Plenty to ponder

It's difficult to criticise Benitez's first transfer window in charge of Everton.

Andros Townsend underwhelmed many fans when he first arrived. However, having registered five goals in nine games, he's already just one behind Rodriguez's tally for last season. He's been some free transfer.

Demarai Gray, meanwhile, is proving bargain of the summer for just £1.7 million. He's starting to fulfil the potential he's always had.

But, if there's one player that Everton lack in the current squad, it's someone who can feature in the number-10 role.

There's no natural conduit for the Blues to switch from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1 system.

Isco would provide that option, having registered an outstanding 52 goals and 56 assists for Real in 342 games.

On paper, he would bring the stardust to Everton.

But there is precident to carefully consider. The Toffees don’t need another apathetic player who doesn’t understand the prestige to don the royal blue.

There is plenty to ponder.