When you say the best transfer period of all time, the vast majority of fans think of the summer of 2009. Real Madrid managed to acquire three Ballon d’Or winners, two current and one future. And that wasn’t all.
He changed. Real Madrid boss Florentino Pérez, upon his return to “office” in 2009, abandoned the concept of buying an expensive star every year. Has he cut back? Not at all. He just decided to buy all the stars at once. And so fans could watch in disbelief the Galácticos II era.
Florentino Pérez was first president of Real between 2000 and 2006. He became particularly famous for his policy of buying world-class stars for huge sums of money, which, while attracting fans, did not always quite fit in with the team. Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham were among those who donned the Los Blancos jersey during that time. The marketing was first class, the football worse.
Although Real dominated the Champions League in 2000 and 2002, the last major trophy was won in 2003, then came a three-year drought . Having analysed the situation, I think it is right for me to step down,” Pérez announced in 2006.
A spectacular comeback
But it didn’t take long before three years later the experienced businessman was again seeking the seat of Real Madrid’s top man. After Ramón Calderón resigned because of his collusion, Pérez sensed a chance to return to the royal club.
“The sad events of the general assembly in December left the club in a difficult position and the urgent need to get through these bad times has led me to take this decision,” Florentino Pérez proclaimed in May 2006.
He received tremendous support among the fans. Thanks to the Galácticos era, he was very popular, and the fans already had their eyes on other stars heading to their beloved club.
At the time, Goal.com conducted a poll among Real supporters on whether Pérez should return to the Santiago Bernabéu. A whopping 71% of them voted for Florentino’s comeback.
Indeed, Pérez won the presidential election and returned to the helm of Los Blancos after three years. In addition to his goal of paying off the club, he came up with a grand plan for Galácitos II.
“We are working to make Real Madrid the best club in the world again. Such a big club needs the best players and although I can’t name them now, we have a spectacular project ahead of us,” Pérez announced on his return.
So the then 62-year-old president rolled up his sleeves and got to work. In the summer 2009 transfer window, Real Madrid spent a previously unthinkable sum of over 250 million euros on reinforcements, making history. Not only because of the astronomical sum, but later on, this period became known as one of the best the football world had ever seen.
Florentino Pérez started the rebuilding of Real by solving the question of the coach. He replaced Spanish coach Juande Ramos, who had replaced Bernd Schuster six months earlier, with Manuel Pellegrini. And the Chilean national coach was given a proper shooting arsenal. The following lines belong to the players who made it up.
Transfer fee:: 5 million euros
Álvaro Negredo was at Almeria, where he was quite successful. Thus, in the summer of 2009, the White Ballet paid the buy-out clause that was built into the striker’s contract when he left Madrid.
However, he only appeared in the white jersey in preparation. Because of the arrival of the big stars, he would not get into the game, so without a single competitive start for Real Madrid, he left for Sevilla.
Transfer fee:: return from loan
Ezequiel Garay has returned from a loan spell at Racing Santander, he was counted on to make the shortlist as a substitute stopper. When Pepe was injured, he was able to replace him quite capably in the stopper pairing. In the 2009/10 season he appeared in 20 league games and scored 1 goal. He also played in three Champions League matches.
However, he stopped playing in the next season, making only 8 starts in all competitions. With the arrival of youngster Raphaël Varane, there was no room for Garay and he left after two years to Benfica Lisbon.
Transfer fee:: €15 million
The football warrior arrived at Real Madrid from Valencia for 15 million euros. The then 23-year-old stopper acclimatised quite quickly and in his first season he played 33 league games, 8 duels in the Champions League and 2 in the Copa del Rey. In the 2010/11 season he was still one of the relatively busy players, appearing in 20 league games and making six appearances in the Champions League and Copa del Rey.
The next season, however, his minutes started to drop. 17 competitive games in total, and in 2012/13 he made a few more appearances again, but was only the fourth stopper behind the trio of Ramos, Pepe, Varane. So after four years in the Spanish capital, he left for Napoli.
Transfer fee:: €4 million
A shield midfielder who didn’t excel in any way with the ball, he was instead more of a black job. Real Madrid ward Esteban Granero went to Getafe, where he proved himself enough for the White Ballet to buy him back in the summer of 2009.
Although he wasn’t very prominent, he spent 3 seasons at the Santiago Bernabéu and played 96 competitive games. In the summer of 2012, he left for Queens Park Rangers, and after a year he returned to Spain, where he played for Real Sociedad and then Espanyol Barcelona.
Due to heart problems, Granero had to end his career early. He was not forgotten at Real, however, and became involved as a coach.
Transfer fee:: 4 million euros
“When everyone thinks we are dead, we go and win the Champions League. That’s what Real Madrid is all about.”
Thanks to this famous sentence that Álvaro Arbeloa uttered after the Champions League final in 2016, fans will always remember the right-back. The then 26-year-old defender arrived for just €4 million from Liverpool, an unassuming transfer that later proved to be very profitable.
He played seven seasons at the Santiago Bernabéu, in which he appeared in 238 competitive games. At first he was part of the starting line-up, then he started to rotate with the young Dani Carvajal, who eventually took his place. Thus, in the summer of 2016, he left for West Ham. Like Granero, he now works at Real in a youth coaching role.
Transfer fee:: €35 million
Xabi Alonso came to Madrid with the hallmark of an icon and a Liverpool fans’ favourite. Therefore, the Spaniard’s transfer didn’t come cheap at all for Real, with Florentino Pérez sending €35 million to Anfield Road for the Spanish defensive midfielder. Xabi immediately slotted into the starting line-up, driving Los Blancos’ midfield with his incredible vision and clever passing until 2014.
He said goodbye in the best possible way – at the top. Indeed, Alonso had a big part in winning La Décima, Real’s tenth Champions League title, although we only remember him as a man in a suit sprinting onto the pitch with goggles on during the final against Atlético. Due to a yellow card penalty, he was unable to start, but that doesn’t change his amazing career at Real Madrid. After five years, he left for Bayern Munich.
Transfer fee:: €67 million
One of the best players of the time. As a playmaker, Kaká had a gift from God. In 2007, he won the Ballon d’Or, so until 2018, he was the last player to win the award outside the pair of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
At Real Madrid, great things were logically expected from the Brazilian magician, only that he unfortunately never reached his AC Milan level. Kaká came for 67 million euros, for which he was the target of frequent criticism. Due to frequent injuries, he missed many games and his market value plummeted.
When he arrived in Madrid, Kaká’s value was €51 million according to the Transfermarkt website, but in 2013 it dropped to just €11 million. The Brazilian therefore planned a return to AC Milan, where he tried to restart his career, but that never happened. Kaká bid farewell to the hallowed white jersey with a record of 29 goals and 39 assists in 120 games.
Transfer fee:: €35 million
Real Madrid didn’t just buy big stars with big names, they thought about the future too. Thus, youngster Karim Benzema arrived from Lyon for €35 million. And even in a big competition of attacking stars, the Frenchman with Algerian roots was able to assert himself immediately.
In his first season Benzema scored 9 goals and 6 assists, a year later he had already scored 26 goals and the Frenchman’s numbers were only growing.
Benzema was overshadowed by the amazing Cristiano Ronaldo for most of his time at Real Madrid, but he managed to handle it brilliantly. It was also thanks to his selflessness that the White Ballet managed to dominate the Champions League three times in a row, something no other team has managed. And it’s not going to happen any time soon.
After Ronaldo Benzema’s departure, Benzema’s numbers began to rise briskly and he is the invaluable driving force behind Los Blancos. He is the fourth top scorer in Real Madrid’s history, with a third Di Stefano and a second Raúl within striking distance. And he has the most assists in the history of the Royal Club.
In addition, he won the Ballon d’Or in 2022, becoming the third player from the summer of 2009 to take home this prestigious trophy.
Transfer fee:: €94 million
Best transfer of all time. Need I add anything? 438 games. 450 goals. 131 assists. 15 trophies. 4 Ballon d’Or. Countless records and milestones. This is Cristiano Ronaldo’s record at Real Madrid. He’s conquered everything he can in the Spanish capital. He made history.
Florentino Pérez’s dream signing came from Manchester United for 94 million euros. After nine years in which Ronaldo rewrote the history of not only the royal club, but of all football, Pérez sold him to Juventus for 117 million euros.
The summer of 2009, of course, was not all about big signings. Several players also left the Madrid club. Bayern Munich bought Arjen Robben for 25 million euros, whose engagement at Real did not suit him at all.
A trio of players left for the same amount of 15 million euros. Wesley Sneijder went to Inter Milan, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to city rival AC and the aforementioned Álvaro Negredo to Sevilla.
Javi García, Javier Saviola (Benfica), Dani Parejo, Miguel Torres (Getafe) and Gabriel Heinze (Marseille) left for smaller sums of up to five million euros. Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus), Jordi Codina (Getafe), Michel Salgado (Blackburn) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (Hamburg) left the Santiago Bernabéu as free agents.
Source: Real Madrid, Transfermarkt
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