Isco's move to Union Berlin called off amid disagreement
BERLIN (AP) — Union Berlin's attempt to sign former Real Madrid star Isco Alarcón fell apart Tuesday, with the German club saying it called the deal off at the last moment.
The 30-year-old Isco had looked set to sign for Union as a free agent after undergoing a medical in Berlin on the final day of the transfer window, but club officials announced the deal had collapsed.
“We would have been happy to see Isco among us, but we have our limits. These were exceeded today, contrary to the previous agreement, so the transfer is not taking place,” Union general manager Oliver Ruhnert said.
Gestifute, the player agency run by Jorge Mendes which represents Isco, declined to comment on why the deal fell apart.
Isco was earlier pictured in Berlin arriving for his medical check at the sports medicine department of the Charité hospital.
The 30-year-old midfielder was available as a free agent after agreeing with Sevilla in December to cancel his contract less than five months after he joined the club. Isco scored one goal in 19 appearances across all competitions for Sevilla.
He was expected to sign a deal with Union through 2024 with the option for another season.
Ruhnert later suggested that Isco’s representatives demanded more than previously agreed with the club.
“We had to discover that previously discussed things were different from the side of the player’s agent,” Ruhnert told Sky before Union’s German Cup game against Wolfsburg. “Before you go through with a medical, everything is discussed and everything was clear for us. Then changes to the contract were requested again.”
Ruhnert said Union had been happy to proceed with what the club thought was already agreed.
“After the changes there today, we said, ‘Not like that.’ Then it was clear for us to say – even if the player was already there – that we don’t get involved in anything that doesn’t suit us,” Ruhnert said. “In the end the player has to decide. He probably had other assumptions."
It would have been a marquee signing for a club that has steadily improved since clinching promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time in 2019. Isco won the Champions League five times in a trophy-laden spell at Madrid from 2013-22. Union has never played in the competition.
Isco, who played 38 times for Spain up to 2019, became a fan favorite at Madrid after joining in 2013 but did not play as much in recent seasons. Madrid did not renew his contract when it expired last year. Altogether he scored 53 goals and set up 57 more in 353 games for the Spanish giant.
When Isco was surprisingly linked with Union in recent days, the club’s fans and players seemed to greet the speculation with disbelief. Union captain Christopher Trimmel posted a picture on Instagram of the players celebrating Saturday’s derby win at Hertha Berlin with the words “This victory is for you Isco” and a kissing emoji. Other players reacted with laughing emojis, while Isco himself reacted with a biceps emoji.
Union is currently second in the Bundesliga, one point behind Bayern Munich after winning all three games since the winter break. It's the only current Bundesliga team to have played in the old East German league.
Union was hosting Wolfsburg in the third round of the German Cup, while it faces Ajax in the first leg of their Europa League playoff in Amsterdam on Feb. 16.
Isco would have been Union’s fourth winter singing following the transfers of Croatia right back Josip Juranović from Celtic, Tunisia midfielder Aïssa Laïdouni from Ferencvaros and French defender Jerome Roussillon from Wolfsburg.
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Ciarán Fahey, The Associated Press