Real Madrid is one of the biggest clubs in the world, in the past it was famous for its transfer tactic “Los Galácticos”, when it bought big world stars. But not all the transfers have worked out as expected.
Los Blancos have never been afraid to spend big money. The huge sums paid for Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, for example, have paid off handsomely, but there are transfers that the offices at the Valdebebas training centre would rather forget.
Danilo – Porto – €31 million – 2015
This transfer really didn’t work out. The right-back came in to deputise for Dani Carvajal, only for it to be a fiasco almost every time he came on. In the 2015/16 season, Real Madrid won the Champions League, but Danilo notched up a completely unique statistic. That’s because he spent every minute of every White Ballet defeat that season on the pitch.
So the simple rule was, if Danilo didn’t play, Real Madrid didn’t lose. If the Brazilian was in the lineup, it stunk of trouble. Now, the 31-year-old full-back has become famous for a few own goals as well, his mistakes often leading to goals for the opposition. The €30 million investment grossly backfired and Real Madrid were very happy to offload Danilo in 2017, sending him to Manchester City.
Antonio Cassano – AS Roma – €5 million – 2006
The amount for the footballing bohemian wasn’t that high, but even so, the money spent on Cassano was thrown in the bin. The Italian footballer was famous for his insane lifestyle and even worse diet.
“In Madrid, I made a friend out of a hotel waiter. His job was to bring me sweets after sex. He came out in the elevator with the sweets, I handed him my wife at the door and we made the exchange. He took the woman and I took the candy. Sex and then food, a perfect night,” Cassano later described his life in Madrid.
Jonathan Woodgate – Newcastle – €18 million – 2004
The worst debut in the history of football was probably Jonathan Woodgate’s. The English stopper came to Spain from Newcastle, but spent his first year on the sidelines with a thigh injury.
As he prepared to make his debut against Athletic Bilbao a year later, he later said in his head: ‘OK, you’re back. But Woodgate’s debut was a nightmare, as he scored an own goal and saw a red card. Still, he earned a standing ovation from Santiago Bernabéu for his return from a serious injury, but when he was sent back to England after six starts, no one complained.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea – €115 million – 2019
Supposed to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s successor, coming with the hallmark of the Premier League’s best player, Real Madrid shelled out over €100 million for him, making him the most expensive player in the club’s history. But Eden Hazard’s career in the Spanish capital has been an unmitigated disaster.
He spends the vast majority of his time on the sidelines, yet hasn’t even made a single appearance in more than 7 competitive games in a row. Moreover, he came in very overweight, and in this context he didn’t even help himself by stating in his introduction video that his favourite food is a burger. Fans then mockingly started nicknaming Hazard “Burger King”. Definitely Real’s worst transfer.
Thomas Gravesen – Everton – €3.4 million – 2005
Thomas Gravesen was signed as a defensive bulldog, an aggressive midfielder who somewhat balances a team made up of all-stars. So this transfer made quite a bit of sense.
But Gravesen overdid it with the aggressiveness. The Danish defensive midfielder once caused a huge brawl in the training center when he drove into the star Robinho with a sharp slide in a pre-match training session.
“I don’t like his behaviour. Everything has to be done the way he wants,” complained the Italian coach. Gravesen left for Celtic just a few days after that statement.
Royston Drenthe – Feyenoord – €14 million – 2007
Another of the big oversights that fans have been remembering for years. Drenthe didn’t have the discipline, the head and probably the quality for Real Madrid.
His anabasis in the white jersey virtually came to an end when he was booed during a game against Deportivo La Coruña at the Santiago Bernabéu. The Dutch winger hung up his cleats at the age of 29 to pursue his rap career.
Julien Faubert – West Ham – Guest appearance – 2009
One of Real Madrid’s most peculiar transfers in history. The whole football world was shocked when the White Ballet brought Julien Faubert on loan from West Ham in January 2009. He was nowhere near the quality of Real Madrid and although a buy-back option was included in the transfer, it was never exercised.
Faubert didn’t help himself with his transfer. In fact, he didn’t show up for training before the Villarreal game because he thought he had the day off. So he played one game in a White Ballet jersey and returned to West Ham.
Other Real Madrid transfers: Nicolas Anelka, Michael Essien, Robert Prosinecki, Walter Samuel, Javier Saviola, Ze Roberto.
Source: Real Madrid, Transfermarkt
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