Union Berlin and Isco – it should be the winter fairy tale of Köpenick: A five-time Champions League winner and the big Bundesliga surprise. But the deal fell through on the home straight. But the iron can be happy about that, because they might have made a big mistake.
Why the deal really failed in the end will probably remain the secret of the two parties. The only thing that is clear is that both sides tell a completely different story about the same result. Isco’s advisory agency has claimed that Union didn’t want to honor the agreements reached previously. The club, in turn, speaks of the opposite: it was the players who suddenly broke the agreed framework.
It doesn’t matter why a transfer to Berlin-Köpenick failed: Union may avoid a big mistake. Because apart from his name, Isco doesn’t have much to offer the Sensations runner-up in the Bundesliga. Isco and Union Berlin could have easily become one of the biggest mismatches in recent years.
First of all: The theoretical qualities of the Spaniard are undisputed. Isco, when used in the right tactical environment and on form, can be a great playmaker. The 30-year-old has enormous technical qualities and can skilfully resolve pressure situations with short dribbles or clever passes. There is no question that such a player could help Union in phases of possession.
Union Berlin and Isco: The perfect complement or an impending misunderstanding?
Especially since the Irons are not one of the strongest teams in the league when it comes to creating danger from controlled possession of the ball. Isco’s passes and Sheraldo Becker’s strong runs – maybe one or the other beautiful goal would have been created in this way.
On the other hand, Isco lacks skills that are essential for coach Urs Fischer and his idea of football. This applies above all to working against the ball. Although the midfielder is quite active here, he is not predestined for the intensive and aggressive game of the Union.
Analysis by Createfootball’s data specialists shows that the former Real Madrid star plays defensively. Especially since FC Sevilla has significantly more ball possession than Union: 57.1% compared to the 43.1% of Berliners. And yet Isco has failed in his previous positions, among other things, because he finds it difficult to cross the border.
Isco: Defensive comparison with Janik Haberer and András Schäfer (Union Berlin) – 2022/23
Successful defensive actions
Defensive tackles won
Union Berlin and Isco: Too many deficits against the ball
That’s why he usually felt more comfortable when coaches focused on a lot of possession. He can use his game intelligence and his nose for the right rooms perfectly. Isco would hardly have seen the ball in too many phases of the game with the Iron. It would have been much more difficult for him to find the right rhythm.
With increasing success, Union will be forced to find creative solutions from possession more often in the future. “There are games where you have to do more and have more possession of the ball,” said sporting director Oliver Ruhnert before the cup game against Wolfsburg sky. The reasoning behind it is correct. Precisely because Union has its biggest problems in this area. But Isco’s name promises significantly more quality than Fischer and Co. would have gotten in the end. The numbers also underline that the right-footed player does not stand out clearly enough from players like Janik Haberer or András Schäfer.
The former Spain international has not played a game since November and has not scored more than once in La Liga since 2018. In the case of Isco, it is therefore not only a matter of a dent in form, but of a deep hole.
Isco: Offensive comparison with Janik Haberer and András Schäfer (Union Berlin) – 2022/23
Successful offensive actions
Won offensive duels
accuracy of fit
Passes in the last third
Union Berlin and Isco: The risk would have been too great
It is quite possible that Union would have helped him there. Sometimes new approaches are good. But Isco, as shown not least by the failed negotiations, is a player with great demands and demands. The risk that it would not have worked because of the sporting question marks is too great.
Union Berlin in particular is characterized by team spirit, teamwork and special commitment. Values that have not always been the top priority in Isco’s career. His separation from FC Sevilla after just four months underscores that. Coach Jorge Sampaoli is said to have stopped planning with him because he didn’t like the commitment and willingness of the offensive player. In the worst case, a situation could have arisen at Union in which a star player suddenly stands far above the rest – and then doesn’t deliver.
Isco’s best days are numbered. The transfer to Union Berlin would certainly have been spectacular and would probably have made a lot of financial sense from the jersey sales alone. Especially since no transfer fee would have been necessary. In terms of sport, however, there was an almost incalculable risk that Isco would not only flop, but tear down some of what Union had built up in recent years. Sometimes it makes more sense not to follow the lure of big names and spectacle.