Everton could secure their next Mikel Arteta after the Toffees linked with a move to bring Real Madrid midfielder Isco to Goodison Park ahead of the upcoming transfer window.
Spanish outlet Defensa Central reported a few months ago that Rafa Benitez was keen for a reunion with the 29-year-old at Goodison Park after managing him at Madrid between 2015 and 2016.
However, Super Deporte have now provided an update on Isco’s situation, claiming that fellow Premier League side Newcastle United and Serie A giants Juventus have joined the race for his signature.
With Los Blancos keen to offload some fringe players ahead of Kylian Mbappe’s expected arrival, and Isco far down Carlo Ancelotti’s pecking order, an imminent exit appears to be on the cards.
It’s been many years since Everton had a diminutive, technically gifted, attack-minded Spanish maestro pulling the strings in the middle of the park, with Mikel Arteta the last to do so.
The now Arsenal boss departed the Blues back in 2011, though, and they’ve missed the guile and imagination of a player in his mould ever since.
In Isco, director of football Marcel Brands could finally replace the attributes that Arteta brought to the engine room throughout his six-year stay, providing Benitez with the creativity he needs for a successful season in the process.
The Spain international has played a pivotal part in Madrid’s success over the last few years, scoring 52 goals and providing 56 assists in 342 appearances for the club. Arteta, meanwhile, provided exactly 35 goals and 35 assists in 209 outings for the Merseyside outfit.
Isco’s impressive exploits helped the capital club claim four Champions League crowns, two La Liga titles and one Copa del Rey during his time in Madrid, earning praise from several impressed onlookers, including former international teammate Andres Iniesta.
“He is a fantastic player, with an incredible talent,” Iniesta told reporters back in 2017. “For many years, he has been doing things very well, and he is playing for one of the best teams in the world.
“He is an important player not just in the national team but in his club. He is young and has many years to grow and improve.”
However, injuries and drop-off in form have resulted in Isco being reduced to a bit-part role in recent years, and he’s only been awarded two starts in all competitions during 2021/22, failing to complete a full 90 minutes on either occasion.
With James Rodriguez’s departure leaving a sizeable gap in Benitez’s forward line at Everton, the £13.5m-rated Isco could be the ideal candidate to plug it, adding the extra firepower that the Spanish tactician so evidently needs.