Top 5 Real Madrid players who moved directly to a rival club

Luis Enrique of Barcelona
Luis Enrique of Barcelona
Sayan Chatterjee

Real Madrid have always been motivated by success, and their rich history is a testament to that fact. With 34 La Liga titles and 13 European Cups, Los Blancos boasts a trophy haul like no other club in the world. Their unprecedented triumph on the European circuit represents just how dominant they have been as a club.

Real Madrid have had other clubs in the Spanish top flight put a dent in their parade over the years, forming significant rivalries along the way. 'El Clasico' and the Madrid Derby are some of the biggest fixtures in world football for the controversies and high voltage football they provide.

However, clubs like Athletic Bilbao and Valencia have also forged fierce rivalries with the Madrid-based club over the years.

Direct transfers between these close rivals have created huge rifts and controversies in the past, which remain a significant part of Spanish footballing history.

On that note, let us take a look at the top 5 Real Madrid players who moved directly to a rival club.

#5 Rafael Alkorta to Athletic Bilbao

Darren Anderton of England and Rafael Alkorta of Spain
Darren Anderton of England and Rafael Alkorta of Spain

Rafael Alkorta was a Spanish defender who went on to make 370 appearances in the Spanish top flight during his 17-year long career. For the majority of his time in club football, Alkorta represented and Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. He is currently the Sporting Director of the Basque club.

Alkorta joined Los Blancos in 1993-94, following his first stint with Bilbao. He was at the heart of Madrid's defense, forming a rock solid partnership with Fernando Hierro. He went on to feature in over 150 games in the Spanish capital, winning two titles in his four years at the club.

Rafael AlkortaAlkorta came through Athletic Club's Lezama academy with his brother Oscar Alkorta. Unlike his brother he was able to break into the first team and played 172 games and 6 seasons at Athletic Club before then moving to Real Madrid.

Alkorta returned to Bilbao for the 1997-98 season, staying at the club till his retirement.

#4 Aitor Karanka to Athletic Bilbao

Aitor Karanka also played for both Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid
Aitor Karanka also played for both Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid

Aitor Karanka was an astute defender during his days as a player in the Spanish top flight. Like Rafael Alkorta, the Spaniard spent the majority of his career at Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid.

Karanka rose to prominence as a youngster during his tenure at the Basque club, before moving to Real Madrid in 1997. Due to the history and significance of 'El Viejo Clasico', his move displeased many Bilbao fans. But the centre-back made a sensational return to Athletic Bilbao following his five-season spell at Madrid.

Current #Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka (43), former defender of #Bilbao, #RealMadrid & Colorado Rapids. #Boro

Karanka was more of a secondary choice at the Santiago Bernabeu, playing second fiddle to the likes of Fernando Hierro and Helguera. He helped Real Madrid win three European cups, among other notable accolades, before he moved back to Bilbao in 2002.

#3 Marcos Llorente to Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid v FC Porto: Group B - UEFA Champions League
Atletico Madrid v FC Porto: Group B - UEFA Champions League

Marcos Llorente had strong ties to Real Madrid. Some members of his family like Paco Gento and Ramon Grosso were even Los Blancos legends. The Spanish midfielder made a move to city rivals Atletico Madrid in 2019 and has been nothing short of sensational under Diego Simeone.

Llorente was nurtured and developed in Madrid's youth academy where he made a name for himself as a defensive midfielder. Due to the presence of Casemiro, the Spaniard's chances at first team football were limited. Atletico Madrid proved a suitable next step for the player.

Under Simeone's guidance, Llorente has shown tremendous versatility and transformation as a player. He is naturally a defensive midfielder but can play anywhere in midfield or defense.

Llorente showed his flexibility playing as an attacking midfielder last campaign, racking up 12 goals and 11 assists in the process. The Spanish midfielder went on to win La Liga with Atletico Madrid, leaving their bitter rivals trophyless.

Although letting him go might have been the right choice at the time for Real Madrid, Llorente's success might come back to haunt them.

#2 Bernd Schuster to Atletico Madrid

Bernd Schuster played for both sides of the El Clasico divide
Bernd Schuster played for both sides of the El Clasico divide

Bernd Schuster was a controversial signing for Real Madrid as he joined them directly from their arch rivals Barcelona. He was referred to as 'the Blonde Angel', and was known for dominating the midfield with his vision, creativity and passing range.

Schuster joined Real Madrid following the end of his eight-season tenure at Barcelona. The German midfielder showed his prowess at the Santiago Bernabeu and was a force to reckon with alongside Madrid's famous La Quinte del Buitre. He scored 13 goals for Los Blancos, helping them win two consecutive La Liga titles.

Happy Birthday, Bernd Schuster 🎉The former #effzeh midfielder, who went on to play for Barcelona and Real Madrid, turns 60 today. Have a good one, Bernd! 🎂

Schuster went as he came, joining directly bitter rivals Atletico Madrid after two successful seasons with Los Blancos. The attacking midfielder joined Atletico in 1990 and made over 100 appearances for the club.

#1 Luis Enrique to Barcelona

Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga
Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

It is no secret that among the two most well-known Spanish powerhouses, Luis Enrique's favorite club still remains Barcelona. As manager, the Spaniard led the Catalan side to their second continental treble in the 2014-15 season. But Enrique spent a major chunk of his career with Real Madrid, featuring over 200 times for them.

ON THIS DAY: In 1996, Barcelona completed the signing of Luis Enrique on a free transfer from Real Madrid.❍ 300 games❍ 109 goals❍ 7 trophiesBargain. 🔴🔵

Enrique helped Los Blancos win three titles in his five seasons at the club. The Spaniard joined Barcelona on a free transfer in 1996, where he was truly remarkable for Barcelona. He scored over 100 goals in over 300 appearances and helping them dominate the Spanish top flight.

Edited by Shourjo Chatterjee
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