Malaga playmaker Isco has been named the best under-21 star in European football for 2012.

The Spaniard beat AC Milan’s Italy international Stephan El Shaarawy and Chelsea goalkeeper, on loan at Atletico Madrid, Thibaut Courtois.

The 20-year-old has been in scintillating form in La Liga this season, but his recent performances for Malaga in the UEFA Champions League this season that have really caught the eye.

Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have all been credited with an interest in the Spain Under-21 international and it is no surprise as financial problems at his club could leave them vulnerable to losing him.

UEFA fined Malaga €300,000 and banned them for a year from European competition the next time they qualify.

Isco will be hoping to proceed further in this year’s premier competition as he and his side face a last 16 clash against Portuguese champions Porto.

The competition was stiff for the award, however, as El Shaarawy has been impressive this season since being given greater responsibility at Milan and he has already scored 14 times in 17 Serie A matches.

Meanwhile, Courtois has been undisputed number one at Atletico since he was loaned to them immediately after being signed by Chelsea in 2011.

He has been solid as Diego Simeone’s side have taken up residence second in La Liga behind Barcelona and do not look like giving it up to their fierce rivals Real Madrid.

Isco was delighted to win the award and admitted he did not think he would be victorious when he saw the company he was keeping in the last three.

“When I read that I was one of three candidates for the title a I dribbled a little, I thought it was a joke," he said.

“When I knew that El Shaarawy and Courtois were the other candidates, I didn't expect to win."

Isco revealed his honour at receiving an award that had been won by some great players like Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

I'm overjoyed. It is a wonderful thing. I see the past winners and it almost makes me shiver, names of the highest prestige, like Messi," he added.

"This Golden Boy [award] will be an incentive for me to become a real star of international football, like those who have gone before me."

The Golden Boy award is hosted by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, with the nominees and winners being decided by a panel of 30 journalists.

Watch the video below to see why Isco has won the award…


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