Manchester City eyes £16.9m-rated Malaga playmaker Isco

Manchester City have made Malaga playmaker Isco their No.1 January target ahead of Radamel Falcao and Stevan Jovetic.

Isco, who has a £16.9 million release clause in his contract, has climbed to the top of City’s target list after they received encouragement from the Spanish club that he could be available when the window re-opens.

Manager Roberto Mancini travelled to the Spanish capital to watch the 20-year-old in action for his club in a league match against Atletico Madrid last Sunday after receiving glowing bulletins from scouts in the early weeks of the season.

Falcao, the prolific Colombian striker, also played in the match but Atletico are adamant that the long-time City target will not be sold before next summer.

City have faced a similar brick wall in their pursuit of Jovetic from Fiorentina. It is understood that the Serie A club have come to an agreement with the €31 million-rated forward that he can be sold next year, although this is most likely to be at the end of the season.

The champions view Isco, who made his debut for Spain earlier this year, before failing to make the final cut for the 23-man squad that went on to win Euro 2012, as a perfect alternative to Eden Hazard, who they missed out on in the summer.

The attacking midfielder has been a central figure in the Malaga team that have climbed to third in La Liga following the sale of Santi Cazorla to Arsenal, starting all seven of the club’s league games and scoring twice in their 3-0 Champions League victory over Zenit St Petersburg.

Isco is a product of Valencia’s youth team and has been highly recommended to Etihad Stadium staff by David Silva, another star academy graduate and current City high-flyer.

Malaga sporting director Mario Armando Husillos admitted in an interview this week that the cash-strapped club would have no option but to offload Isco if his €21m buy-out clause is triggered.

"Isco is our player and is a very important member of the team,” Husillos said. “He's not for sale. We want to keep him here, but everyone knows that players have a release clause. So, if a club meets this clause, it will be out of our hands.”