Lopetegui rates Isco in ‘football’s elite’

Spain boss Julen Lopetegui has praised Real Madrid midfielder Isco as one of the world’s finest after his performance in Saturday’s demolition of Costa Rica.

The 25-year-old impressed despite not joining Jordi Alba, Alvaro Morata, David Silva, and Andres Iniesta on the scoresheet in Malaga before an injury forced him off the pitch.

"Isco is a player that is already settled in football's elite," Lopetegui said after the friendly encounter.

"I say he's settled because he's really constant at a maximum level and that's really hard to achieve.

"He made it thanks to his enormous quality but, not only that, also thanks to his great state of mind that made him a great player. That's why he's settled at that level.

"As he said yesterday at the press conference, the best of Isco is yet to come, I have no doubt about it. He has the ambition, the attitude, the quality and the mentality for that."

Isco’s performance was soured by a second-half injury that saw him replace by Madrid teammate Marco Asensio in the 65th minute, but Lopetegui believes the issue started in his club’s 2-1 defeat to Girona.

"Isco has a contusion, he already had it after the match against Girona," Lopetegui said, with another international friendly against World Cup hosts Russia still to come on Tuesday before La Liga duty resumes on the weekend with a derby clash between Los Blancos and Atlético Madrid.

"It's just a contusion, nothing else. We will evaluate his state and take a decision about him for the next match, but it's nothing to worry about – just a heavy contusion."