Real Madrid have a storied history and in the modern era, the club has also become synonymous with glitz and glamour.
The Galacticos era demonstrated the financial muscle of the Spanish outfit and under Florentino Perez in particular, that’s been flexed regularly.
Los Blancos have long been considered a domineering force in the transfer market and are proving as much this summer as well, already spending £272.7m (according to transfermarkt.co.uk) with the acquisitions of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo.
After a disastrous season during which they went through three managers, they appear determined to buy a route back to success.
Will they succeed?
We look at some of their most lavish summer spending sprees of the past to help you formulate your own opinion…
2009 | Money Spent – £232.65m
Players bought: Cristiano Ronaldo (£84.6m); Kaka (£60.3m); Karim Benzema (£31.5m); Xabi Alonso (£31m); Raul Albiol (£13.5m); Alvaro Negredo (£4.5m); Alvaro Arbeloa (£3.6m); Esteban Granero (£3.6m)
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Three years after stepping down as club president, Florentino Perez was in the hot seat once again and predictably revived the Galacticos policy he pursued in his first term. He did so in emphatic fashion.
Madrid set the world record fee by luring Kaka away from AC Milan on June 8 before shattering it just three days later with the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.
The Portuguese star arrived at Santiago Bernabeu as the Ballon d’Or winner and was greeted by over 80,000 fans for his presentation – a record audience.
Madrid had finally won their pursuit of Ronaldo having come close the previous summer only for Sir Alex Ferguson to persuade the star to remain at Old Trafford for another season.
Perez also managed to rope in two more massive signings in Karim Benzema from Lyon and Xabi Alonso from Liverpool, while adding Raul Albiol, Alvaro Negredo, Alvaro Arbeloa and Esteban Granero to the fold as well.
WAS IT A SUCCESS?
A splurge upwards of £200m was unprecedented a decade ago and transformed the football transfer market. Ronaldo’s fee was staggering but at a time when Lionel Messi was beginning to realise the full extent of his powers, Madrid had to break the bank for an answer to the phenomenal Argentine in their rivals’ ranks.
Having gone on to smash several records at the club and depart last summer as their all-time leading scorer, inspiring them to four Champions League crowns in the process, that coup must be deemed an overwhelming success.
Kaka’s arrival on the other hand pales in comparison. The Brazilian didn’t turn into a bad player overnight, even leading the way for assists in his first season and scoring eight goals. But he couldn’t match the lofty expectations in the Spanish capital and injuries soon slowed him down.
Alonso and Benzema went on to be great successes at the club. The Spaniard established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world while the striker has led the line for Los Blancos ever since.
Albiol and Arbeloa were useful members of the squad as well but Granero and Negredo never quite made the cut.
2013 | Money spent – £157.95m
Players bought: Gareth Bale (£90.9m); Asier Illarramendi (£28.8m); Isco (£27m); Dani Carvajal (£5.8m); Casemiro (£5.4m)
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After what felt like an eternity of negotiating with Tottenham and Daniel Levy, Gareth Bale was finally a Madrid player for a world record transfer fee. Having just enjoyed a phenomenal 26-goal season with Spurs, the Welshman was one of the most sought after talents in the game and presumably Real’s answer to Barcelona’s acquisition of Neymar.
Meanwhile, Madrid made Asier Illarramendi their most expensive Spanish signing with the midfielder touted as a long-term replacement for Alonso at the time. They also exercised their buy-back option for Dani Carvajal who was impressing at Bayer Leverkusen. Casemiro caught the eye after his loan move from Sao Paulo in January and was tied down to a permanent deal.
WAS IT A SUCCESS?
Bale’s first two seasons were impressive. Even though he played second fiddle to Ronaldo, he scored 39 goals in 92 appearances. However, he didn’t kick on and never got near the bar set by the Portuguese. Instead, injuries took their toll and the unforgiving Bernabeu crowd got onto his troubled back. That said, he has scored some crucial goals along the way, including that unbelievable bicycle kick to beat Liverpool in the Champions League final last season.
Illarramendi never quite nailed down a spot for himself in the first team before returning to Real Sociedad. Casemiro on the other hand was a mainstay in the XI as Zinedine Zidane led them to three consecutive European crowns while Carvajal – when fit – has been the undisputed starter at right-back since his return to the capital.
While Isco has been in and out of the team over the past couple of seasons and perhaps hasn’t scaled the heights he’s capable of, it’s hard to label his transfer a failure. He was key to Madrid’s Champions League success in Zidane’s first season and has regularly reminded all of his class.
2000 | Money spent – £107.33m
Players bought: Luis Figo (£54m); Flavio Conceicao (£22.5m); Claude Makele (£12.6m); Pedro Munitis (£9.45m); Cesar Sanchez (£5.6m); Santiago Solari (£3.1m)
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At the turn of the millennium, Luis Figo was the king of Camp Nou and arguably the best player in the world. He then did the unthinkable by leaving for fierce rivals Madrid and his transition was nowhere near as graceful as Michael Laudrup’s six years earlier.
A deeply complicated transaction that involved a greedy agent, Florentino Perez’s power struggle at the Bernabeu, false assurances and a triggered release clause led to Figo’s unforgivable – as far as Barca fans are concerned – switch to Madrid.
Los Blancos spent heavily on luring midfielder Flavio Conceicao from Deportivo La Coruna as well before also adding Claude Makelele from Celta Vigo, Pedro Munitis from Racing Santander, Cesar Sanchez from Real Valladolid and Atletico Madrid’s Santiago Solari.
WAS IT A SUCCESS?
Spending over £107m back then was unheard of but in the following three years, Madrid would win two league titles and one Champions League. Figo was an instant hit, scoring 14 times in his first season – even winning the Ballon d’Or – and consistently delivering until his move to Inter Milan in 2005.
Makelele was a solid purchase while Conceicao, Pedro and Solari were useful squad players. Sanchez’s stint in the capital was short-lived with Iker Casillas emerging as the undisputed No1.
*All figures via transfermarkt.co.uk
Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season? We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.
We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.
Atletico Madrid -> €120m -> Manchester United
Broken promises about the future at Atleti have forced the boyhood United fan to consider a world-record move away, according to ESPN.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: The Slovenia goalkeeper has publically voiced dissatisfaction about the talent drain at Wanda Metropolitano. An exit is, potentially, offered by the uncertainty that surrounds current Red Devils No1 David de Gea. If a new contract cannot be agreed and a summer exit to Paris Saint-Germain – also suitors for Oblak – follows, then they couldn’t select a better successor. Oblak’s affinity to the club also means a lack of Champions League football doesn’t matter, while the presence of a release clause makes the switch less complicated.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Unless De Gea departs this summer, the move will not occur. There is still hope that his stay will extend into a ninth year. United also have plenty of work to do in the market, meaning even they might not be able to allocate much cash to secure Oblak.
Transfer rating: 3/10
RAUL DE TOMAS
Real Madrid -> €20m -> Benfica
Impressive form on loan at Rayo Vallecano has seen the optimistic Portuguese champions come forward with a bid that is below Madrid’s valuation, according to MARCA.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: For all the cocksure De Tomas’ impressive exploits at the relegated Madrid minnow, he was La Liga’s joint-third highest-scoring Spaniard in 2018/19, there seems few prospects for success at Santiago Bernabeu. With Eden Hazard, Rodrygo and Luka Jovic joining the long queue in front of him, a quick sale should appeal. Benfica offer Champions League exposure, solid links with Madrid president Florentino Perez and a platform to shine.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Benfica remain €20m short of Madrid’s valuation. To meet it, they’d need to almost double their transfer record. Competing interest from great rivals Porto, as reported by A Bola, has further complicated matters. It would also not be a great surprise if richer clubs from the Premier League and elsewhere in La Liga were to get involved in an auction.
Transfer rating: 5/10
Cagliari -> €50m -> AC Milan
A last-minute interjection by AC Milan for the emerging Italy midfielder appears to be threatening Inter’s efforts when a deal appeared certain, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: A failure by the Nerazzurri to nail down a transfer fee and wages for the 22-year-old has opened up a window of opportunity. Milan are reported to be open to sending striker Patrick Cutrone, plus cash, the way of the Sardinians to tempt them. With Tiemoue Bakayoko expected to head back to Chelsea and a desire emerging to cash-in on Franck Kessie, there is space to fill in the Rossoneri XI.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Inter can offer access to the Champions League and are less encumbered by Financial Fair Play obligations. The opportunity to work under Antonio Conte must appeal, while Milan are currently managerless. Barella is also a boyhood Inter supporter.
Transfer rating: 6/10
Highly-rated Ajax duo Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek are keeping their options open amid transfer interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
A memorable season came to a disappointing end for the pair on Sunday evening as Holland lost 1-0 to hosts Portugal in the inaugural Nations League final.
De Ligt and Van de Beek had been hoping to cap a campaign to cherish with more silverware, having played a key role in Ajax’s domestic double and their eye-catching run to the Champions League semi-finals.
The Amsterdam club’s golden crop is now set to be disbanded, with a number of big names looking set to follow Barcelona-bound Frenkie de Jong in making an exit.
Teenage sensation De Ligt has been strongly linked to Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, but the in-demand defender is in no rush to make a decision.
Asked after the Nations League final what colour shirt he would be wearing next season, the 19-year-old said: “I don’t know. I don’t know.
“Now I am going on vacation and I just take a rest, relax and then I will see.
“When you rest you have enough time to think, so that’s good.”
Press Association Sport understands that the United hierarchy have long expected De Ligt to join Barcelona, where De Jong has already agreed to move.
Cristiano Ronaldo asked the young centre-back if he was joining Juventus after Sunday’s final, while Liverpool and Manchester City have also been mentioned as possible destinations for one of the stars of Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals.
Asked how he reflected on the campaign, De Ligt told Press Association Sport: “I think it was a difficult end to a memorable season.
“I think in the beginning we didn’t expect to reach the final, but we did and if it is a final you want to win it.
“I am not happy that we lost but proud that we came here.”
Ajax team-mate Van de Beek echoed those sentiments after Holland just fell short at the Estadio do Dragao on Sunday night.
The 22-year-old is excited about the future of Dutch football and he too could be on the move this summer.
Reports suggest Van de Beek would be keen to move to Manchester United or Tottenham this summer, while Real Madrid are among the other clubs to be linked with a move.
“My situation is I have a contract with Ajax and I am really happy,” he said.
“You never know what is going to happen in the future but I can say nothing about that.”
Van de Beek was more forthcoming on the situation regarding team-mate De Ligt, with it appearing a matter of when rather than if the defender leaves.
“I’ve known him a long time and he has a big personality,” he said.
“He is a really good guy, a really good player he is a good professional who always trains extra and he is a really good guy.”
Asked if De Ligt may leave, Van de Beek said: “I don’t know.
“A lot of clubs want to buy him, I think so because he is a good player and now he has to choose for himself, where he feels good, he has to go there.”
Hakim Ziyech and Andre Onana are other Ajax players to be linked with an exit as Erik ten Hag’s side looks set to be dismantled – a sad development for the neutral, but one Van de Beek is philosophical about.
“You see that a lot,” he said. “Players go to another country, another competition, that’s normal in Holland, in the Dutch league, you see that a lot of times.”
Copy provided by Press Association Sport