Manchester City: Isco or El Shaarawy?
Would Malaga's Isco be a better signing than AC Milan's Stephan El Shaarawy?
Every year Manchester City are linked to some of the best players in the world.
Fuelled by the countless millions of the Abu Dhabi Investment Group, the Manchester club are continuously on the lookout for the best players on the market.
This summer they are at it again. Having already acquired the services of Jesus Navas and Fernandinho, City are now on the lookout for an attacking player. And two of the names that are doing the rounds in the rumour mill are those of Malaga's Isco and Milan's Stephan El Shaarawy.
To decide between El Shaarawy and Isco is a difficult proposition. Even though both players are massively talented and could prove to be great additions to the squad, many aspects have to be taken into consideration before a decision is made.
What do Manchester City need?
With the presence of strikers of the quality of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko already among their ranks, what City now require is a quality player to provide them with quality balls to convert. With supply being the main point of emphasis, Isco should have an edge over El Shaarawy.
Even though, according to stats obtained from whoscored.com, El Shaarawy has more assists this season than Isco, the Spaniard has been a better long ball provider and passer than El Shaarawy.
While El Shaarawy is more adept at cutting in and scoring himself, as is evidenced by his impressive tally of 16 goals from the wing for Milan last season, Isco provides more when it comes to build-up play. Where El Shaarawy has averaged 28 passes per match this season, Isco has a much superior average at 47.
However, if goals are indeed more coveted than the supply line to the strikers, then El Shaarawy is leaps and bounds ahead of his competitor, with El Shaarawy having 16 goals with a further four assists, whereas Isco has nine goals and one assist in the La Liga season.
With Manuel Pellegrini now being confirmed as the next coach of City, the team are more likely to work on solid teamwork and give much less importance to individual flair.
And Isco, having already performed well under Pellegrini at Malaga seems a better fit for the strictly organised Pellegrini team than El Shaarawy, especially since he already knows what to expect from his manager.
However, the conservative Pellegrini may be impressed by the defensive work rate of El Shaarawy, as well as his surety on the ball - both being much superior to that of the Malaga youngster.
The playing style in the Premier League
Even though many Spaniards have impressed in the Premier League over the past few seasons, most of them have needed time to settle in before they find their groove. And Isco might find it harder than most to adapt to the physical nature of the league.
Combine this with the fact that Isco is one of the most fouled players whenever he plays, the Spaniard could be in for a torrid time. El Shaarawy on the other hand comes from an equally (if not more) physical league in Serie A and will thus presumably take less time to adjust into it. Also, the Italian is also way better in aerial duels than the Spaniard.
Another important aspect to be considered, even with the seemingly endless coffers at the disposal of Pellegrini, is the transfer fee that City will have to pay.
While the financial turmoil at La Rosaleda could mean that Isco would be available for cheaper price - around £20m - than El Shaarawy from the comparatively financially stable AC Milan, with £30m being the touted fee for "Il Faraone".
Both of these players are immensely talented footballers and could be the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle for City.
El Shaarawy is arguably the better player among the two of them, with the 20-year-old practically singlehandedly carrying a limping AC Milan side to decent results in the first half of the league campaign last season.
However, the superior chance creation and passing of the Spaniard is what Manchester City so desperately need - more than the flair and charisma of El Shaarawy, especially with Isco already having proved that he can work under the manager.
El Shaarawy is no less a player, but the verdict is clear as to whom City should try to sign: the Spanish wonderkid Isco.
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