3 Former Barcelona players Real Madrid should look to sign in the next transfer window
- Despite the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona, a fair few players have played for both clubs.
- We take a look at 3 such ex-Barcelona players who Real Madrid should consider signing in the next window.
The rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is perhaps the fiercest in football. The two Spanish giants have crossed swords for nearly a century while the world has watched on from the sidelines.
El Clasico, as it is known, rose to prominence due to clashing political identities in the 1930s, with the two teams occupying the opposite ends of the spectrum. While there remains a political component still to the Clasico, more recent clashes have taken place with purely footballing factors in the backdrop.
The animosity between the two clubs, however, has persisted over the years. As a result, when a person - whether player or coach - switches allegiances, they are subjected to abuse from the fanbase they have wronged.
Luis Figo would be able to present a first-hand account of the same, considering that the Portugal legend was the target when the Barcelona faithful threw a pig's head onto the pitch upon his return in Real Madrid's colours.
Nonetheless, nothing should stop players from moving between the two clubs nor the clubs from approaching them. Keeping that in mind, and the focus on Real Madrid, we take a look at three ex-Barcelona players Los Blancos should consider buying in the next window.
Note: For this article, we have restricted the list to players who have played for the Barcelona senior team at least once.
#3 Jordi Masip
The back-up goalkeeper position is perhaps the hardest one to fill in modern football. On the one hand, very few custodians are willing to accept a smaller role. But on the other, every good footballing side needs a reliable back-up option. As a result, the pool for reserve goalkeepers is a very small one.
Real Madrid have particularly struggled in this department for a few years and their experiments involving Kiko Casilla, Keylor Navas, and Alphonse Areola haven't worked. Areola, who is currently the understudy to Thibaut Courtois, is now expected to return to France for the following season, with his spot going to young prospect, Andriy Lunin.
However, instead of halting Lunin's progress, Real should continue developing him via a loan deal while bringing in a new 'number two'. Jordi Masip is a player that could fit the bill.
A decade after joining La Masia, Masip made his senior Barcelona debut. It was in the final round of the 2014/15 championship, with the team having already secured the title. It remains the only appearance the Spaniard has made for the senior team. He has since moved to Real Valladolid and has helped them return to the top flight.
Statistically, Masip is among the consistently best 10 goalkeepers in the league. He has played every minute of the current league campaign and is performing better than expected - as indicated by post-shot expected goals against goals conceded.
Now 30, the Spaniard could accept a move to Santiago Bernabeu in the hopes of winning trophies while not demanding the 'number one' shirt. Meanwhile, a low fee could make the transfer sensible for Real Madrid as well despite the player's history.
#2 Marc Bartra
Whether positive or negative, a single moment can sometimes define a footballer's career. Just ask Marc Bartra, whose humiliation at the hands of Gareth Bale is still fresh in the minds of fans.
Nonetheless, Bartra has put the incident behind him and gone on to have a decent career. The centre-back is currently playing for Real Betis in La Liga, following a short stint with Borussia Dortmund.
Bartra joined La Masia in 2002 from Espanyol and broke into the first-team eight years later. The Spaniard drifted between the third and fourth centre-back spot in the roster during his time with the senior team. Despite this, he managed to make over 100 appearances.
He eventually left his boyhood club in search of game time in 2016 and joined Borussia Dortmund on a four-year deal. A year-and-a-half later, after surviving a bombing attempt, Bartra was back in his native Spain playing for Real Betis.
Stylistically, Bartra is a solid ball-playing centre-back who is strong in the air and quick across the ground. He has maintained a passing completion rate of over 89 per cent over the last two-and-a-half seasons at Betis and is an excellent medium-range passer.
He is also very versatile and is capable of playing as a right-back and a central defensive midfielder, as well as a centre-back.
If Real Madrid are in search of a low-cost option in central defence, Bartra should be their go-to man. Despite his Barcelona links, the Spaniard will provide excellent cover to the likes of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.
Furthermore, his adaptability in playing as a central defensive midfielder could also provide cover for Casemiro - a position which the Brazilian solely occupies at the moment.
#1 Thiago Alcantara
In 2013, Bayern Munich capitalized on Barcelona's failure to maintain their contractual promise to Thiago Alcantara and signed the Spaniard for a low fee.
Alcantara had seen his release clause dropped from €90 million to €18 million after failing to make a certain number of appearances and the Bavarians took advantage of the same. He has since won six straight titles in Munich and is on course to win a seventh.
Thiago joined La Masia in 2005 after academy stints at Flamengo, Ureca, and Kelme. Aged 18, the central midfielder made his debut for the senior team in a dead-rubber game in 2009 with the club already having secured the title.
He grew in prominence under Pep Guardiola but failed to displace Andres Iniesta or Xavi from the starting line-up. Eventually, in 2013, Thiago left Spain to link up with Guardiola in Germany.
Presently, the Spanish international is among the best central midfielders in the league and the world. He is an excellent passer and dribbler and is often deployed as the main playmaker in the team.
Statistically, Thiago has maintained a passing success rate of nearly 90 per cent over the last three years while his dribbling success rate is also stable at 85. His performances in big games had been a contentious issue previously. However, that has subsided since his masterclass against Chelsea in the Champions League.
Thiago could be an apt replacement for the ageing Luka Modric in the current Real Madrid team and will be able to help them strengthen their Spanish backbone.
Los Blancos will have to pay a small fortune for his services. However, presenting a former Barcelona player as a 'Galactico' should make it worthwhile.