Football: Isco hopes signing for Real will boost World Cup chances

MADRID (REUTERS) - Real Madrid's first signing of the Carlo Ancelotti era, Isco, said he hoped joining the nine-time European football champions would boost his chances of making the Spain squad for next year's World Cup finals.

The Spanish Under-21 playmaker, who was joined from Malaga for some ¤30 million (S$49.5 million), completed a medical and signed a five-year contract before being presented in front of around 5,000 cheering fans at a sun-soaked Bernabeu on Wednesday.

"It's a great opportunity that is always in your head, and if I do things well here, I might have an opportunity to be in Brazil," Isco, who will wear the No.23 shirt, told a news conference.

Isco, 21, helped Malaga to a club-best fourth-placed finish in La Liga two years ago and to the Champions League quarter-finals last season in their debut campaign.

He caught the eye with a series of impressive performances in the European Under- 21 Championship in Israel last month, scoring a penalty in Spain's 4-2 final victory over Italy.

The talented midfielder was voted by coaches the "revelation player" of La Liga two years ago and he won the "Golden Boy" trophy as the best Under-21 player in Europe in 2012.

He made his debut with the Spain senior national team in a friendly against Uruguay in February and is one of the popular choices to make the step-up into Vicente del Bosque's side after their Confederations Cup final defeat to Brazil last weekend.

Isco was also a target for Manchester City and their new coach Manuel Pellegrini, who worked with him at Malaga the last two seasons.

"I had offers from other clubs in Europe, but it is impossible to say no to Real Madrid," he added, when asked why he reportedly changed his mind from signing for City to join Real. "I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by."

Isco will have to fight for a place in the Real starting line-up but he was unperturbed.

"I have a lot of confidence that I will be able win myself a place here," he said. "No one will gift me minutes but I hope with hard work I will carve myself a niche."

There has been much speculation in the local media that Isco is a fan of Real's arch-rivals Barcelona, fuelled by the fact he has a pet dog called Messi, named after Barca's Argentinian World Player of the Year.

While he juggled the ball on the pitch at the Bernabeu, fans chanted for him to kiss the Real badge, which he failed to do, and he deftly side-stepped the question in the news conference.

"It's true I have been a Malaga fan, now I am the biggest Madrid fan there is. I will give my all for this shirt," he said.

When asked about his dog, he replied to much laughter: "Yes. But I also had one called (Luis) Figo. It is nothing more than an anecdote."

Former Portugal international Figo played for both Barcelona and Real.