- Primera Liga
Isco: Real fought hard to sign me
New Real Madrid signing Isco said that "there's nothing greater" than joining Los Blancos as he was officially unveiled at the Bernabeu on Wednesday having spurned interest from Manchester City.
The former Malaga forward sparked a transfer tug-of-war this summer between the Spanish giants and City, but in the end the highly rated youngster opted to stay in Spain rather than follow former boss Manuel Pellegrini to the Etihad Stadium.
The €27 million outlay has been regarded as an excellent piece of business by the Madrid president Florentino Perez, and important kudos for the Spanish league, which has seen many talented players leave for England in recent years.
After chants from thousands of fans gathered in the stadium of 'Isco, Isco' had died down, the 21-year-old, who has signed a five-year contract with the nine-time European Cup winners, spoke for the first time as a Real Madrid player.
"First and foremost I want to thank the president for fighting so hard to bring me here," said the Merengues' new signing. "For a footballer, there's nothing greater than signing for Real Madrid.
"It's the maximum. I'm joining the world's biggest football club and I hope I will help the team and learn a lot. I'm 21 but I feel I'm prepared to play here. I had other offers from other teams but it was hard to say no to Real Madrid.
"Pellegrini was keen to take me to Manchester but once I knew Real Madrid were interested I didn't think twice."
Those words are at odds with those he said in 2009, when he stated: "I've always been a bit antimadridista and I still am. I have the feeling it's an arrogant club, and without humility you don't get anywhere."
There were rumours that as a youngster Isco had grown up supporting Barcelona. But while the 21-year-old was forced to admit he had named his dog Messi, he denied any allegiances to the Catalan club.
"I grew up in Malaga so Malaga was always my team," he said. "But now I'm here I'm the biggest Real Madrid fan there is. No one will doubt my dedication to this club."
When asked if he'd be changing his dog's name from to Cristiano now that he's signed for Real, Isco quipped: "I can't change his name, if I did he wouldn't take any notice of me!"
Perez added at the presentation of the first major signing of his third term as Real president: "Isco has what it takes to satisfy a club as immensely demanding as Real Madrid. We believe in you and your talent.
"This is a player who has won over fans with his imaginative and creative style of football. He had other offers, but he wanted to sign for Real Madrid."
Isco, who has chosen the No.23 shirt previously worn by David Beckham - who coincidently arrived at the Bernabeu ten years ago this week - is well aware that signing for one of the world's biggest teams means that competition for places will be fierce.
"Winning a place in the best team in the world is difficult, but if I didn't believe I could do it I wouldn't be here. I can adapt my game to different positions so I don't think I'll struggle to find a place in the team. I've come here to fight for my place and to succeed so I hope I'm able to do that."
A key reason for moving to the capital was apparently the two men who will be in the dugout next season. Madrid's new signing explained that "when someone like [Zinedine] Zidane, who is one of the football greats, is interested in you that's very important.
"[Carlo] Ancelotti has also won a great deal, league titles and Champions League titles. His record speaks for itself."