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Why Man Utd are willing to compete with Arsenal for Malaga superkid Isco

Jose Rondon was understandable. Santi Cazorla they could accept. But should crisis club Malaga make Isco their third big name sale of the summer, the La Rosaleda will surely be in danger from furious fans now seeing their squad dismantled.

The reality is that after Rondon's sale to Rubin Kazan and Cazorla's move to Arsenal, Isco's departure is looking more and more likely. Malaga still needs to sell to survive and the 20 year-old midfielder is their most saleable asset.

We revealed last week that Arsenal had asked after Isco during negotiations for Cazorla and it's since emerged over the weekend that Manchester United have registered their interest.

He's only been a Malaga player for 12 months, but Isco is regarded as the club's great, new hope. Such has been success that Unai Emery's departure from Valencia was partly blamed on his failure to properly handle the former Los Che starlet.

Isco's progress left egg on the faces of Valencia directors who backed Emery's management of the youngster. The coach has now left for Spartak Moscow. But while €6 million at the time appeared good business for Valencia, a year on both United and Arsenal won't blink in meeting the player's €20 million buyout clause.

It's also understood Barcelona made multiple enquiries in the second-half of last season, though they went quiet as their summer market priorities became more focused.

Full name Francisco Roman Alarcon, Isco quit Valencia last summer after growing tired of the broken promises of Emery. Time and again, Isco would seek an explanation from Emery as to why his B teammates were being promoted ahead of him. And every time, Emery assured the youngster his chance would come.

Isco's talent was no secret. On debut as an 18 year-old in the Copa del Rey, he scored twice in victory over Logrones. But it was still not enough for Emery.

Upon learning of Valencia's plans to send him out on-loan to Getafe, it was the final straw for Isco and he didn't hesitate when Malaga offered an escape route. Emery mapped out his plans for him, but it was too late. Isco had heard it all before and the Valencian was lost to his hometown club.

Since then, Isco hasn't looked back. He looked a natural alongside the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Cazorla and Joaquin last season as Malaga qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history. Spain coach Vicente del Bosque took notice and selected the youngster in his pre-Euros squad for friendlies against Serbia and South Korea.

Again this week, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confessed concerns over how he will replace Paul Scholes. But in Isco, he may find the ideal solution. Local observers sing in unison when discussing his qualities: great on the ball, a wide passing range and the ability to find the back of the net from in and outside the penalty - though not the greatest tackler. Remind you of anyone?

His Malaga coach, Manuel Pellegrini, was delighted with Isco's progress throughout last season.

"Isco has improved a lot. In the first games, he struggled with the pace and experience of the Primera, but with more minutes he is becoming a more complete player.

"He still has more to give. We are very satisfied with his performances."

The heartbreaker for Malaga fans is that when he first arrived, Isco was seen as the player most representing the club's exciting new era under Sheikh Al-Thani. But it now appears the transfer could end up just being a footnote in Isco's glittering career - to be continued most likely in England.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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