|Phil Kitromilides Twitter: @PhilKitro|
The crowd chanted Isco's name at the weekend. That in itself is nothing new as the man from Malaga gets a standing ovation practically every game he plays at the Bernabeu. Only he was not playing at the Bernabeu.
Only Sunday night with his Real Madrid side comfortably beating Elche 2-0 at the Estadio Martinez Valero, Isco was substituted and received a round of applause from the home fans that was as heartfelt as it was deserved. It started as a ripple, but gradually spread to all parts of the imposing stadium as Elche's supporters realized it was acceptable to show their appreciation for what had been another sublime performance.
The caveat to the magnanimous reception received by Isco is that he is a Spanish international, with Iker Casillas after the game proclaiming "Isco will become the most important player in Spanish football". The crowd might not have been so generous in their applause had he been Icelandic.
8 - Isco has made eight assists in La Liga this season, one more than Andres Iniesta did the last campaign. Wizards. pic.twitter.com/HFlEbAwA7w— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 23, 2015
Nevertheless there is plenty for non-Spaniards to marvel at in terms of Isco's performances this year which have seen him elevate himself to a hitherto unattained level. The player himself recognizes the improvement admitting "I am in the best moment of my career" and the way in which he has taken advantage of the opportunity presented to him this year has been extraordinary.
When he arrived at the Bernabeu last season he was a number 10, an attack minded player operating behind the striker concerned solely with linking the forward play. During the subsequent 18 months he has metamorphosized into an all action midfielder, hard working and tenacious but still possessing the softest of touches and skills silkier than the King of Spain's handkerchief.
This change is partly down to Isco's ability to adapt and learn a new position but also to the vision of his manager Carlo Ancelotti. Once again the Italian has been able to reinvent a player's role within a team much like he did to great effect with Angel Di Maria last year.
Yet his ingenuity has also presented Ancelotti with a delightful problem in that Isco has now made himself so fundamental to the side that his place his practically unquestioned alongside Toni Kroos.
Both James Rodriguez and Luka Modric are out injured, yet they will soon return and alongside the impressive new boy Lucas Silva it presents Ancelotti with a mathematical conundrum; five into a midfield three simply does not go.