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5 big-money signings that failed at Real Madrid

Real Madrid would gladly erase these transfers from their history
Real Madrid would gladly erase these transfers from their history
Jidonu Mauyon O.
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Real Madrid lead the pack when it comes to coughing up colossal figures to sign the biggest names from the transfer market. Los Blancos shocked the world in the 2000s when they assembled arguably the greatest line-up in history consisting of mega superstars like Ronaldo Nazario, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos.

These players marked an era at the Santiago Bernabeu with success at both the domestic and European levels. However, it is worth noting that a significant number of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' signings over the years didn't turn out to be good investments.

In fact, there are a couple of transfers in Los Blancos' history that they'd like the public to forget ever happened. These are players who achieved remarkable feats at their previous clubs and cost the Spanish giants a fortune, but became mere shadows of themselves upon switching to the Santiago Bernabeu. We look at five of the most disappointing ones.

#5 Asier Illarramendi

The midfielder flopped woefully
The midfielder flopped woefully

As Xabi Alonso approached the twilight of his career, Real Madrid knew they needed to find a decent long-term replacement for the iconic midfielder. Los Blancos thought they had done just that when they signed Asier Illarramendi from Real Sociedad for €39 million in the summer of 2013. But they learned otherwise afterwards.

The defensive midfielder found it very difficult to settle at the Santiago Bernabeu. He struggled with homesickness and culture shock, having moved from a small town (Mutriku) with just 5,000 inhabitants to the largest city in Spain.

Illarramendi failed to impress on the pitch as well, putting up a string of woeful performances and falling out of favor as a result. He spent two forgettable years at Real Madrid, recording three goals and one assist to his name. He was sold back to Real Sociedad in 2015 for just €15 million, becoming one of the biggest losses Los Blancos have recorded on a player throughout their history.


#4 Luka Jovic

Another failed Real Madrid investment
Another failed Real Madrid investment

Real Madrid signed Luka Jovic for €63 million following a prolific outing for the attacker during the 2018-2019 campaign in which he bagged 27 goals and seven assists for Eintraincht Frankfurt across all competitions. However, like the other names on this list, the attacker flopped at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Jovic struggled in his first season at the club, finding the back of the net just twice despite featuring in 27 games. He failed to justify his price tag and was loaned back to Frankfurt last season. He returned to the Santiago Bernabeu this summer and is reportedly on the list of players Los Blancos are looking to get rid of in the coming weeks.


#3 Michael Owen

The golden boy failed to shine at Real Madrid
The golden boy failed to shine at Real Madrid

Michael Owen won the prestigious Ballon d'Or award in 2001 courtesy of his sensational displays for England and Liverpool. That convinced Real Madrid to go all out to sign the attacker in 2004 in a cash-plus-player deal that saw the Reds pocket €12 million and Antonio Nunez move to Anfield.

What followed was a period of total capitulation for the then-English best player. Owen spent just one season at the Santiago Bernabeu under the shadow of Ronaldo Nazario, who was the undisputed center-forward in the team at the time.

With his career rotting on the bench, the forward decided to return to the Premier League where he joined Newcastle United in a deal worth €25 million. Owen bagged 16 goals and four assists from 45 games during his time in the Spanish capital.


#2 Ricardo Kaka

kaka joined Real Madrid in the same period with Ronaldo but couldn't shine like the Portuguese
kaka joined Real Madrid in the same period with Ronaldo but couldn't shine like the Portuguese

Kaka landed at Real Madrid in 2009 in a deal worth €67 million, just two years after winning the coveted Ballon d'Or accolade at AC Milan. He arrived the same summer as Cristiano Ronaldo and the fans were looking forward to a formidable attacking line at the Santiago Bernabeu ahead of the 2009-2010 season.

While the latter moved on to become the greatest player in the club's history, the Brazilian's career only went on a downslide. Kaka spent four years at Real Madrid, bagging 29 goals in 120 appearances. He was merely a shadow of his former self during those years and was allowed to return to Milan on a free transfer in 2013.


#1 Eden Hazard

Real Madrid's record signing is yet to justify his transfer
Real Madrid's record signing is yet to justify his transfer

Eden Hazard became the most expensive player in Real Madrid's history when he joined the La Liga giants from Chelsea in a deal worth €115 million in the summer of 2019. The Belgian was signed to strengthen the attack following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo the previous summer.

However, it turned out to be another fruitless investment as Hazard has failed to hit the ground running since he landed in the Spanish capital due to constant injuries. So far, the winger has spent 405 days on the doctor's table - within just two years - missing 59 games in the process. He's scored just five goals for the club since making his big-money switch and could be offloaded this summer if a good offer lands on the table.

Edited by Parimal
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