Imagine there are two horses about to start a race. For our convenience let us call the first horse Real Madrid and the second horse Barcelona. All horse number one needs is a bit of grooming and he would be ready for the race. Horse number two on the other hand needs a new horseshoe on one of his legs but all he gets is better grooming than horse number one. Who do you think stands a better chance of winning this two-horse race?
In Neymar, Barcelona have added a brilliant player. He is undeniably the next big thing in football. He is quick, smart, inventive and most importantly for Barcelona, has excellent passing technique. He provides a brilliant attacking outlet and it would be a fan’s dream come true to see Messi and Neymar weaving their magic on the same pitch for the same team. But is Neymar what Barcelona need? No.
Barcelona need a man to replace Carles Puyol. A commanding center back who can re-inspire confidence in Pique, who is good with the ball at his feet and most importantly who can be a dominant figure when it comes to heading the ball.
The Blarguana need a holding midfielder who can either play alongside or cover for Busquets. Barcelona need a goalkeeper who is not as error-prone as Victor Valdes. A keeper who can inspire trust from his team. But one thing they did not need is Neymar.
Neymar is a man who will play on the wings. For wingers Barcelona have Alexis Sanchez, Pedro, Fabregas, Iniesta and more often than not a man called Messi. Neymar could play up front but he is yet unproven in leading a team as their striker. Neymar, therefore, is a luxury, not a necessity. Barcelona may address their other weaknesses later, but right now, Neymar is just an extravagant luxury. And paying 57 million Euros or 49 million pounds for a luxury is not quite sensible.
Isco, on the other hand, is exactly what Real Madrid need. Di Maria is strongly being linked to a move away from the Bernebeau. Isco is a creative midfielder who can play as a number ‘10’ or on either side of the number ‘10’ in Madrid’s 4-2-3-1. If Di Maria does go away, Isco can replace him on the right or play just behind the striker with Ozil on the right side.
Unlike Barcelona, Real Madrid are in top shape all over the pitch. Their right-back position occupied by Arbeloa needs a replacement, but that is about it. Varane is excellent at center back and the midfield duo of Khedira and Alonso is second only to the partnership of Martinez and Schweinsteiger. They have Modric to cover for any of them and if Higuain does go, as rumoured, Ronaldo and Benzema could share striking duties, which would leave another position vacant for the former Malaga man.
Isco is a gifted player in every sense of the word. He is quick on the ball and makes excellent passes to set up his teammates. He is a two footed player and like Neymar can hit the ball with force and accuracy. In the currently inflated transfer market he is a bargain at 23 million pounds. He was voted the best young player in the world and is only behind Neymar and Hazard in terms of potential.
One thing Isco has and Neymar does not, is responsibility. As he showed for Malaga, Isco has a better team ethic and does his job defensively. He is not selfish and puts the team first. For all his precocious talents, Neymar has never done a job of tracking back and helping out his team.
Moreover, no disrespect to the Brazilian league but they are simply not good enough a league in terms of defending. Neymar has proved himself in Brazil but will have to adjust to better defending in Spain. Isco is a proven man and knows how to navigate Spanish defences.
On balance, Neymar is world-class but does not solve any of Barcelona’s problems. Isco may not be counted in the same league as Neymar, but I have a feeling he is just what Real Madrid need. If the squads stand as they are, I think that Real Madrid will edge out this two horse race, and Isco will the man who would have made the difference.