Real Madrid and their galacticos have formed a crucial chapter in football since the turn of the century. Superstars arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu one after the other to claim trophies and help sustain Real Madrid's tag of being the richest club in the world.
The Los Blancos have assembled a team of world beaters at exorbitant prices, cherry picked by the president himself. Some have been highly successful and others, well not so much. With the transfer market officially opening today, let's have a look at the 10 most expensive Real Madrid signings of all time and rate them according to their contributions to the club.
#10 Kaka - €65 million
After making mincemeat of the defenders in Italy, Ricardo Kaka arrived at Real Madrid amidst much fanfare. The Spanish giants paid a staggering €65 million to AC Milan and offered the Brazilian a six-year contract. He was given a grand reception by the Madrid fans during his unveiling, with shirt sales going through the roof.
But the 2007 Ballon d'Or winner could not reach the same heights in Spain that he had in Italy. His fitness let him down and the playmaker lost almost an entire season to injuries. Then came Jose Mourinho who dropped him to the bench, favouring Mesut Ozil instead.
Kaka could not dethrone Ozil for a starting spot and after four excruciating years at the Bernabeu, he left again for the San Siro. He won three titles during his time with Real Madrid - the La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup and produced 29 goals and 32 assists in 120 matches.
Rating - 3/10
#9 Arjen Robben - €36 million
The master of cutting in from the right flank and curling the ball back into the net, Robben failed to shine at the Santiago Bernabeu. It wasn't his fault that led to his unwarranted exit from the club though.
After two seasons with the club, Robben had settled down perfectly in Spain and was at his marauding best. But the summer of 2009 saw Real Madrid sign two of the best players in the world in the form of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. Robben lost his place in the team and was eventually sold to Bayern Munich for €25 million.
The Dutchman later claimed that he was forced to leave Madrid that summer despite being fully committed to fighting for his place in the team. Robben scored 13 league goals for Real in two seasons and also helped them win the La Liga in his debut campaign in 2007.
Rating - 4/10
#8 James Rodriguez - €75 million
The pin-up boy of the 2014 World Cup and the Golden Boot winner saw his childhood dream of playing for Real Madrid become a reality soon after his exploits in Brazil. Florentino Perez decided to splash the cash for Rodriguez and it was later revealed that then-manager Carlo Ancelotti had not even been consulted.
But in the 2016/17 season, Rodriguez and new manager Zinedine Zidane had a falling out which meant that the Colombian got very little playing time. Youngsters like Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez were preferred over him which led him to be linked with a Madrid exit.
In 77 appearances for the club, Rodriguez has gotten on the scoresheet 28 times. Barring the Copa del Rey, the Colombian has won every possible trophy with Real Madrid but his contributions were, in reality, a bare minimum.
Rating - 4.5/10
#7 David Beckham - €37.5 million
Real Madrid signed Beckham in the summer of 2003 after offloading Claudio Makelele. Accommodating Zidane, Figo and Beckham in the starting lineup was a nightmare for the manager and it proved to be disastrous for Real Madrid as, during Beckham's time in Spain, Real won just one league title.
The fans though adored the Englishman not just for his footballing ability but also the endorsements he brought in. During his stint with the Los Blancos, the club's merchandising sales grew to over $600 million. But from a footballing perspective, the move backfired as Madrid could not utilize Beckham to his full capacity.
Zinedine Zidane had later said in an interview, "Beckham is the gold plating on a car, but what good is a car if its engine is sold?" He was referring to Makelele as the engine of Real Madrid whose sale resulted in destabilising the midfield.
Rating - 4.5/10
#6 Xabi Alonso - €35.4 million
The former Liverpool man was not a galactico signing per se but he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo or Karim Benzema because of his insane talent. The midfielder was an orchestrator in the centre of the park during his five-year stay with the club and helped Real Madrid win the much anticipated La Decima.
Sadly, he missed the final of that year's Champions League due to a suspension but played a huge role in Madrid reaching that stage. The Spaniard also won the La Liga in 2011/12. The midfield maestro played 158 times for Real Madrid and scored four goals before securing a move to Bayern Munich in 2014.
Rating - 6/10
#5 Ronaldo Nazario - €45 million
After helping Brazil win the 2002 World Cup, it was obvious that Real Madrid were going to do everything in their power to onboard the best player in the world, Ronaldo. In July, Ronaldo became a Real Madrid player after he completed his move from Inter Milan. "Il Fenomeno" was the deadliest striker in the game at that time and he displayed his robust athleticism time and again for the Los Blancos.
The Brazilian won two league titles during his five-year stay in Madrid and also lifted the Spanish Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup along the way. Injuries, however, hampered his stay in Spain and hence, after scoring 83 goals in 127 appearances, he was sold to AC Milan in 2007.
Rating - 6/10
#4 Luis Figo - €60 million
Figo arrived at Real Madrid in a controversial manner, reigniting the rivalry and the hatred between Real and Barcelona. Figo made an instant impact and helped his new side to the La Liga title in 2001 and to the Champions League crown a year after that.
He was in supreme form in the 2000/01 season, culminating in him lifting the FIFA Player of the Year award. Figo spent five years with the club and forged a good on-field relationship with Zinedine Zidane. The Portuguese winger was crucial to changing the fortunes at Real Madrid, with President Perez making him his first big signing of his tenure.
Rating - 7/10
#3 Gareth Bale - €101 million
The Welshman became the most expensive player in the world when he completed his transfer to Real Madrid in 2013. Success followed soon after as his first season in a foreign country proved to be a highly effective one. Bale scored in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey final to secure Real a double and reaffirm his status as the future of the club.
He then scored in the FIFA Club World Cup final and helped Madrid mount a title challenge. But his fitness and form took a turn for the worse last year. The 16/17 season was a relatively quiet one for the Welshman, with Zinedine Zidane opting for a 4-4-2 formation later in the year, meaning his side no longer needed a winger.
Real Madrid then went on to win back-to-back Champions League titles but Bale did not play a significant role in either of them. Had he continued his rich vein of form, he would have definitely been higher on the list.
Ultimately, Bale's arrival coincided with Madrid’s return to the top of Europe, making him one of the most successful transfers by the Madrid board.
Rating - 7.5/10
#2 Zinedine Zidane - €73.5 million
The Frenchman arrived at Madrid for a world record fee in 2001, breaking the previous record set by his Madrid teammate, Luis Figo. He won the Champions League in his first year with the club and scored a stunning volley in the final against Bayer Leverkusen. That goal was later termed the best goal in the history of the competition.
Zizou won the league the following year and with it came the FIFA Player of the Year accolade. The Frenchman also won the Intercontinental Cup and the UEFA Super Cup with Madrid, making the 70 odd million they spent on him chump change. His pirouettes and calmness in front of goal made him the best player in the world during his first few seasons with the club.
15 years after he had made his debut for Real Madrid, Zidane returned in January 2016 to take charge if the side as a manager. He is currently considered one of the best in the business, recently becoming the first manager to successfully defend the Champions League title.
Rating - 9/10
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo - €94 million
Real Madrid and Florentino Perez conducted their best bit of business when they lured Cristiano Ronaldo to the club for a whopping €94 million back in 2009. Since then, there has been no stopping the Ronaldo juggernaut, with the Portuguese breaking record after record for Madrid.
He is on course to becoming one of the best players ever to don the famous white jersey of Real Madrid and there is absolutely no one who could deny that fact.
His records and goalscoring feats speak for themselves and his biggest contribution came in the Champions League as his sensational run of form helped Madrid win three European titles in four years. In the 2016/17 season, Ronaldo's form in the knockout stages single-handedly gave Real Madrid their 12th European trophy.
The Portuguese was a superstar at Manchester United but he became a legend at Real Madrid. His legacy at the Santiago Bernabeu will remain untouched for years to come and the Los Blancos will find it nigh impossible to replace the Portuguese once he hangs up his boots.
Rating – 10/10
(Vinicius Junior - the 16-year-old sensation from Flamengo is not a part of this list despite him being one of the most expensive players to sign for Real Madrid. He cost them €46 million but has not yet joined the club. Junior will become a Real Madrid player in 2018).