Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has reinforced midfielder Isco's importance to the team by stating he is 'counting' on the 27-year-old midfielder.

The former Malaga star has found playing time somewhat hard to come by under Zidane this season, playing a paltry 314 minutes in La Liga and the Champions League so far.

The Spain international had been tipped for a January departure from Los Blancos following the summer signings of Eden Hazard and Rodrygo, along with the return of James Rodriguez, which have seen Isco fall down the pecking order at the Santiago Bernanbéu. 

Isco,Zinedine Zidane

However, speaking in his pre-match press conference (via ​Marca), Zidane was asked about the surprise inclusion of Isco in Madrid's Champions League tie against Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday night. 

The 47-year-old stated: "He (Isco) played the other day because I'm counting on him. I know Isco very well and I know that when it's his turn [to play], he performs very well. He shows the personality that he has."

Despite ​rumours linking Isco with a move away from the Spanish capital with ​Arsenal​Manchester City and ​Juventus all reportedly interested, Zidane remains eager to retain the services of the former Valencia man. 

Vinicius Jr.

However, despite leaping to the defence of Isco and also ​Vinicius Jr, Zidane wasn't as supportive of Mariano Diaz and Brahim Diaz. The former hasn't featured at all this season, and the latter has managed just 18 minutes of La Liga action.

When asked about the potential exits in the upcoming transfer window for both players, Zidane added: "We'll deal with that in January. They want to be ready to be called up [to the Real Madrid matchday squad]."

Brahim Diaz

Real Madrid return to La Liga action on Saturday as they travel to the Estadio de Mendizorrotza to face Alaves. They then host Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabéu in La Liga a week later.