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5 world-class players who regret joining Real Madrid

Not every player makes the best of an opportunity to play for their dream club
Not every player makes the best of an opportunity to play for their dream club

Real Madrid is the dream club for many an aspiring footballer, and with good reason. The Spanish giants are one of the biggest clubs in football history. For many footballers, the pinnacle of their career is pulling on the Madrid white and representing Los Blancos, and for a lucky few, the dream becomes a reality.

However, many world-class players have had their careers stall during their stint at Madrid. On that note, we take a look at five players who had a horrid time while plying their trade for Real Madrid.


5. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored eight goals in 20 games for Real Madrid
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored eight goals in 20 games for Real Madrid

While Huntelaar didn't have too bad a debut season at Madrid going by the numbers - 8 league goals in 20 games - he was destined for so much more when he arrived on Spanish shores for the first time in a €20 million deal from Ajax.

The prolific striker had hit the net a whopping 76 times in just 92 league games for the Dutch champions, but upon his arrival at Madrid, he was dealt a severe blow when he was informed he wouldn't be a part of their Champions League squad. With Madrid having signed Lassana Diarra from Portsmouth in the same January window, only one of the two could make the UCL squad according to UEFA rules, and Diarra eventually made the cut.

Huntelaar was moved on in the summer transfer window to AC Milan, just six months after signing with Madrid. He followed it up with a stint at Schalke before moving back to his beloved Netherlands, signing for Ajax again.


4. Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben had a forgettable stint at Real Madrid
Arjen Robben had a forgettable stint at Real Madrid

Throughout an illustrious career, Arjen Robben has won almost everything there is to win in terms of club honours. While he is unarguably one of the most successful wingers of all time, his stint at Real Madrid was a forgettable one.

Arriving from Chelsea in a deal worth £24 million, Robben was expected to hit the ground running right away, but that did not quite transpire. While he did have a pretty decent season or two, the arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka meant he was surplus to requirements and spent most of the time watching on from the sidelines.

Following the conclusion of the 2008/09 season, Robben was sold to Bayern Munich where he remained till his retirement, successfully resurrecting a stalling career. He managed just 13 goals in 65 appearances for the Spanish outfit while for Bayern, those numbers rise exponentially - 144 goals in 309 appearances.

Robben also stated in 2014 that moving from Madrid to Bayern was the best move of his career.


3. Nuri Sahin

Nuri Sahin's time at Real Madrid proved to be quite disastrous
Nuri Sahin's time at Real Madrid proved to be quite disastrous

A lot was expected of Nuri Sahin when he moved to the Santiago Bernabeu for £9m from Borussia Dortmund having just won the Bundesliga Player of the Season award.

However, his Madrid tenure proved to be nothing short of disastrous. He made just four appearances for the Spanish giants in the La Liga, failing to score a single goal. That was in complete contrast to the six goals and eight assists he had managed in his final season in Germany.

Sahin was subsequently loaned out to Liverpool where he flattered to deceive before he was sent packing back to Dortmund, who signed him permanently in 2014. Despite his return to Germany, the Turkish international never hit his stride again, being used mainly as a bit-part player, before being sold to Werder Bremen.


2. Michael Owen

Michael Owen struggled for form right at the start of his time at Real Madrid
Michael Owen struggled for form right at the start of his time at Real Madrid

Michael Owen's was a career of what-ifs. Despite possessing enough talent to be spoken of in the same breath as the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi and co, he never quite made it count, with injuries wrecking a significant part of his career. The last English player to win a Ballon d'Or, Owen was worshipped at Anfield where he averaged a goal every other game, until his controversial move to Madrid in 2004.

Handed the number 11 shirt, Owen struggled for form at the beginning of his Madrid stint, often being confined to the bench. With competition for places from the likes of Raul, Owen never quite found his feet in Spain, but he still managed to score 13 goals from 36 games.

The Madrid thinktank was not impressed by what they had seen and decided to move him on in the following summer. Owen was sent to Newcastle and then Manchester United before signing for Stoke where he ended his career.


1. Kaka

The move to Real Madrid was the beginning of the end for Kaka's career
The move to Real Madrid was the beginning of the end for Kaka's career

“In 2009, I accepted the proposal from Real Madrid, but after that move, I was completely destroyed, because I couldn’t replicate what I’d done for Milan. I was totally lost. In Italy, everyone had loved me, but in Spain they all wanted me to just leave," Kaka has been quoted as saying.

Kaka joined Real Madrid at the peak of his powers. Having won the Ballon d'Or in 2007 and then finishing as a finalist the next two seasons, the Brazilian left Milan in what he considered the move of a lifetime. He had won everything possible at the Italian club, including the Champions League in 2006/07 and felt it was the right time for a change.

The Brazilian playmaker signed for Madrid in a €67 million deal, not knowing that that would be the beginning of the end for him. With the arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil, Kaka was forced to the sidelines, warming the benches for most parts of the subsequent seasons. Injuries too played their role in wrecking one of the most promising careers. He wore the Madrid white a total of 85 times in league competition, scoring 23 goals before heading back to his beloved Milan.

He never hit the same heights again though and moved on to Orlando City before announcing his retirement in 2017.

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Edited by Amit Mishra
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