Real Madrid’s 7 worst signings of all time

TOP 7: ROBERT PROSINECKI | From Red Star | €15m | 1991

Robert Prosinecki recently admitted, “My time at Madrid could certainly have been better. But I established myself there at a time when foreign players were limited, and I discovered a different type of football.” However, even he acknowledges that his spell is better remembered for “injuries and lost titles”.

Big things had been expected of one of the finest talents ever to come out of the Balkans, a gifted midfielder who had just helped Red Star Belgrade win the European Cup. The highlight of his three-year Real career, though, was a goal against Barcelona in the Clasico and even that was well and truly overshadowed by the fact that he departed for Catalunya in 1995. That he also flopped there was of little consolation to Real’s frustrated fans.

TOP 6: J.WOODGATE | From Newcastle | €18.3m | 2004

The worst debut in history? It’s hard to look past Jonathan Woodgate’s first outing for Madrid – even though it was extremely tough to watch. The centre-half had joined in 2004 but a spent a year out injured with a thigh problem that Real’s doctors had failed to detect.

“I thought, ‘Right, you’re back. Show them what you can do,” he later recalled of his appearance in a Liga game against Athletic Bilbao. He scored an own goal and was sent off. A forgiving Bernabeu gave him a standing ovation nonetheless but nobody complained when Woodgate was sent back to England in 2006 after just eight further Liga outings.

TOP 5: WALTER SAMUEL | From Roma | €25m | 2004

Even at €25m, Walter Samuel looked like an excellent signing for a Real side crying out for a dominant, ruthless centre-half. However, the Argentine never looked anything remotely like the player who had earned the nickname ‘The Wall’ during his time at Roma, much to the bemusement of former coach Fabio Capello.

“The fact that he did not make a name for himself at Real Madrid still surprises me,” the Italian later admitted. “Perhaps it was the wrong time.” It certainly seemed that way because as soon as Samuel returned to Italy in 2005, to join Inter, he went back to being one of the finest defenders on the planet, becoming a legend at San Siro.

TOP 4: ELVIR BALJIC | From Fenerbahce | €26m | 1999

Real have John Toshack to blame for the waste of money that was Elvir Baljic, as it was the Welshman had been impressed by the Bosnian during his time working in Turkey and, consequently, persuaded Real president to pay a shockingly large fee for the forward.

Baljic’s hopes of making an impact in Spain were hardly helped by a knee injury shortly after his arrival but even when fit, he did not look like he belonged at the highest level and he was loaned back to Fenerbahce after just one season, and one goal, in La Liga. He later mused: “It doesn’t hurt me to see media listing me among Real’s biggest flops; I don’t see myself that way.” Unfortunately, Real’s fans do.

TOP 3: DANILO | From Porto | €31.5m | 2015

Danilo has openly admitted that it is difficult to deal with the amount of scrutiny players are subjected to by the media in Madrid. “An error, no matter how small, goes viral,” he lamented. “A mistake becomes very great even if it is small. But, of course, when you do something good, it is also very great.”

Unfortunately, the Brazilian has rarely done anything good since joining from Porto two years ago – he played every minute of every defeat Real suffered during the 2015-16 campaign – and is now set to be sold, with both Chelsea and Juventus inexplicably interested in signing Dani Carvajal’s understudy.

TOP 2: NICOLAS ANELKA | From Arsenal | €34.5m | 2009

Real took a massive gamble when they signed a talented but temperamental French striker who had already earned himself the nickname ‘ Le Sulk ‘ in the English press. It did not pay off. Nicolas Anelka lasted just one season in Spain – but it was an eventful campaign.

His first goal came in the Clasico, while he netted twice in the Champions League semi-finals against Bayern Munich. However, there were just seven goals altogether, not least due to the fact that the forward was suspended for 45 days at one point for refusing to train, with Anelka accusing his Spanish employers of treating him “like a dog”.

“Something does not turn around properly in his head,” Real president Lorenzo Sanz countered, shortly before selling his enfant terrible to PSG.

TOP 1: KAKA | From AC Milan | €65m | 2009

It’s easy to understand why Real Madrid broke the transfer world record to sign Kaka. When he joined from Milan, he was 27 and at the peak of his powers, the reigning Ballon d’Or holder. At the time, there was no better sight in football than the Brazilian trequartista with the ball at his feet: he didn’t run; he glided. Unfortunately, he was grounded for the majority of his time in Spain.

Injuries ruined what should have been a sensational partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo, while the arrivals of Jose Mourinho and Mesut Ozil also hindered his hopes of playing regular football. There were highlights, not to mention a Liga title triumph, but as he himself admitted, “I lost the joy of playing football a bit [in Madrid].”

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