Could Real Madrid star Isco finally provide a satisfactory conclusion to a long-running saga at the heart of the Juventus midfield?
Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri spent the entire summer extolling the virtues of installing a premier performer in the trequartista - or playmaker - role.
He’d lost deep-lying creative genius Andrea Pirlo to New York City FC, while attacking midfielder Arturo Vidal departed for Bayern Munich.
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Allegri repeatedly spelt out his desire to introduce a traditional No.10 in order to tweak his approach and style of play without those stellar names on board.
However, numerous overtures for ambitious targets such as Bayern virtuoso Mario Gotze and Chelsea maestro Oscar failed to materialise despite Juve’s best efforts, which eventually led to a last-ditch purchase of Inter outcast Hernanes.
Juventus are already in the hunt for an alternative due to the Brazilian’s insipid form, with Real prospect Isco reportedly topping the wanted list ahead of January’s transfer window.
Experienced midfielder Hernanes was drafted in when all other avenues had been exhausted, as his Serie A pedigree suggested he would at least prove to be a short-term success.
Unfortunately, he has failed to hit the heights of a wonderful stint at previous club Lazio earlier in his career, where he excelled for three-and-a-half years from August 2010.
His more recent spell at Inter was blighted by restricted involvement and inconsistency, being included in the starting line-up for less than half of their league outings in 2014-15.
Since joining Juventus, the 30-year-old has not scored or assisted a single goal for the reigning Italian champions throughout 11 all-competition outings.
Additionally, he incurred a red card away to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on November 3, while missing last month’s Serie A contest against Palermo with a torn abductor muscle.
Perhaps his best days – when he notched double figures on the goalscoring charts twice within three seasons at Lazio – are behind him.
Several possible new signings were bandied about during the summer months, but to no avail.
Once again, thanks mainly due the inability of Hernanes to live up to his billing, CEO Giuseppe Marotta has been forced to revisit the issue.
A name that has been persistently mentioned over the last few months in connection with the Old Lady is outstanding Spaniard Isco.
He has been heavily utilised by Real coach Rafa Benitez this term; on the right-hand side more often than not, whereas his preferred positions are perceived to be either on the left or ideally through the middle.
It may be that Isco would relish an opportunity to dictate the tempo of Juventus' attacking play as a trequartista, which is a likely scenario that he would find in Turin.
Furthermore, Real Madrid themselves could well be poised to recruit an assortment of big-time players in a bid to arrest a sudden downturn that saw bitter rivals Barcelona thump them 4-0 in the Bernabeu.
That potential splurge might result in many current squad members being jettisoned permanently or on loan – Isco among them.
The 23-year-old represents exactly what Juventus require in their midfield department at this moment in time – superb close control, an 89 per cent passing accuracy and the ability to fashion a host of openings, which is showcased by the 22 chances he's created after 13 league games.
Juventus coach Allegri would presumably enjoy having such a creative force at his disposal, while we can only imagine how productive he would be at No.10.
With the resurgent Bianconeri now primed for an assault on top spot over the winter period, an arrival on the scene such as Isco's – even temporarily – could be the missing piece in a jigsaw that will push Juve to retain their throne.
Do you believe Real Madrid would want to let a player of Isco's quality leave? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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