At a club like Real Madrid, the riches ensure that even the brightest of names have to prove themselves on the pitch consistently to remain in the plans of their manager. While some manage to do so week in week out, there are a number of players who have found the going tough at the Santiago Bernabeu; just ask Colombian superstar James Rodriguez.
However, there is more to football than Real Madrid, and often sidelined players have found joy at other shores. In this segment, we take a look at 5 former Real Madrid players who are having a good 2016-17 season.
#1 Marcos Alonso
Marcos Alonso has been one of those signings of the summer that have been unspectacular yet effective for their sides. The Spaniard, who learnt his trade at the La Fabrica, made just a solitary appearance for the Real Madrid senior side in the 2009-10 season, before moving to Bolton Wanderers before the beginning of the 2010-11 season in search of more first-team action and the player’s career has been on an upward trajectory ever since.
After impressing with Fiorentina over the course of 2013-16, the Spanish wing-back made the much talked about move to Chelsea at the start of the current season and has already made the left wing-back position his.
Alonso has demonstrated an all-round ability, helping his colleagues in their attacking endeavours while also ensuring that he does his fair share of dirty work at the rear end of the pitch. The versatile player has contributed with 15 goal scoring opportunities and has also found the back of the net once, while also disrupting the rhythm of the opposition with frequent tackles and interceptions.
#2 Pedro Leon
Spanish midfielder Pedro Leon, who spent a year with the Real Madrid senior side during the 2010-11 season has been one of the reasons his side Eibar currently sit in the top half of the La Liga table.
The midfielder arrived at Real Madrid amidst great expectations, after impressing with Getafe. However, the resources at Real Madrid ensured that the player did not find the requisite playing time during his time at the club and was sent on a 2-year-loan to Getafe, before making the move permanent at the start of the 2013-14 season, where he continued to impress.
In the current season, Leon, who moved to Eibar on a Bosman transfer, has been the creative lynchpin of his side as he has created a chance every 45 minutes he has been on the pitch for the side. With 5 goals to showcase for his attacking abilities, the player has undeniably been his side’s biggest attacking threats.
He might not have found a place for himself at Real Madrid, but the player is an example of how players who might sometime prove to be a small fish in a big pond can capitalise on a move away from the club.
#3 Iker Casillas
Iker Casillas’ association with Real Madrid started when he joined the club’s academy as a 9-year-old and the player thereafter, imprinted himself in the glorious years of the club with his impressive performances between the sticks.
However, like any other player, Casillas too had to endure a tough time as a footballer and the appointment of Jose Mourinho could be termed as the catalyst that led to the Spaniard leaving the Spanish shores in search of first team football.
However, the Spaniard continues to be an inspiring presence for Porto, his club since the summer of 2015. Casillas has featured in all of Porto’s 21 games this season and has managed to keep a clean sheet in an incredible 12 games, brushing aside any suggestions that he is being played on account of his reputation rather than ability. The goalkeeping legend averages close to 4 saves per goal conceded and has been tidy with his distribution to lay the solid foundation for his side’s ascent to the 2nd spot in the Portuguese league.
#4 Alvaro Negredo
Though Negredo never won a single cap for Real Madrid, he was associated with the club for 2 years after moving to the club’s B side Castilla. Despite impressing during his time with the side, scoring 22 goals in 65 appearances, the player was never believed to be in the long term plan of the Los Blancos and was promptly shipped to Almeria at the beginning of the 2007-08 season.
While he did briefly make a return to Madrid’s books when they exercised their buy-back contract and the end of the 2008-09 season, it was yet another layover to his next trip to Sevilla, where he truly rose to prominence.
After successful stints with Sevilla, Manchester City and relatively underwhelming one at Valencia, Negredo is back in England with Middlesbrough and proving to be an invaluable asset to the Boro unit. With 5 goals and 3 assists in 16 appearances, the Spaniard has directly contributed to 50% of his side’s league goals this season and continues to be a threatening presence in the box with his abilities on the ball as well as his aerial superiority.
#5 Angel Di Maria
To think about it, if we consider the price that Manchester United had to pay to bring the Argentine to Old Trafford, Di Maria could not be considered as an outcast. However, the sheer fact that Madrid let him leave the club, just months after helping the club achieve the glorious La Decima of the Champions League title could lead to people deeming the player as an outcast.
The Argentine, who moved to Paris Saint-Germain at the starting of the last season, has been in glorious form despite the side enduring a tough season thus far. He has created chances at will, looks the most threatening of PSG players and has shown a reignited ability to tear up defences, after having a rather underwhelming time at the Old Trafford.
While he might have found the back of the net only thrice, Di Maria has been a constant menace to the opposition with his creative abilities, splitting defences at a consistent frequency. The playmaker has created 57 chances in 20 appearances this season and for PSG to reclaim the trophy they have made their own over the recent years, Di Maria remains a critical player.