By 90Min
April 04, 2018

For some players, their reputation within the game is synonymous with the some of the biggest clubs in the world, where success is second nature.

Others, however, need to gain recognition for high quality performances at less established sides, with some eventually earning a dream move into the big leagues.

Here, we look at 8 players who took success in their stride as they moved on from good to great clubs.

Gareth Bale (Tottenham to Real Madrid)

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Welsh superstar Gareth Bale's ascendancy to the top of the game started down on the south coast of England with Southampton.

His devastating pace and sweet left foot soon caught the attention of Tottenham, with Bale plying his trade as an attacking full back. It wasn't long before manager Harry Redknapp saw his potential going forward, with Bale going on to flourish as an attacking force at White Hart Lane.

After a couple of outstanding individual campaigns, Bale was targeted by La Liga giants Real Madrid in the summer of 2013. He moved to the Spanish capital for £85m, a then world record fee.

Luis Suarez (Liverpool to Barcelona)

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Having excelled in the Eredivisie for five years with Gronigen and Ajax, Luis Suarez got his break when he moved to Liverpool in the January transfer window of 2011.

The Uruguayan firmly established himself at Anfield as a top class player, helping the Reds mount a serious title challenge during the 2013/14 campaign with 31 league goals.

With Liverpool unable to match his ambitions on the European stage, Suarez earned himself a dream move to Catalan giants Barcelona, joining for a reputed £65m fee. The 31-year old has won it all since his move, notching up over 100 league goals in La Liga in under four seasons at the club.

Gianluigi Buffon (Parma to Juventus)

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Goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon has forged one of the most successful careers in the history of the game, winning a record 176 caps for Italy.

His loyalty to Juventus during a turbulent period during the mid 2000s has cemented his place in Bianconeri history, with a storied 17-year career at the club set to come to an end with Buffon's retirement at the end of the season.

Prior to joining Juve, Buffon spent six seasons with Parma during the late 1990s, making 168 appearances before becoming the most expensive goalkeeper of all time at €52m. 

Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich)

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Linked with a move to Real Madrid, it seems Polish striker Robert Lewandowski's all conquering spell at Bayern Munich could lead to yet another dream move onto an even bigger stage.

Prior to his success with Bayern, the 29-year-old striker was plucked from the wilderness in 2010 by Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund, who signed him from Polish side Lech Poznań. He went on to enjoy four thrilling years at Signal Iduna Park, impressing in front of the yellow wall with a string of sensational performances.

Lewandowski's consistency culminated in a move to Bavaria in 2014, where the Polish striker has filled up his trophy cabinet with a string of Bundesliga successes at the most successful club in Germany.

Neymar (Santos to Barcelona)

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Regarded as one of the most exciting talents in the world, Brazilian superstar Neymar caused quite a stir when he burst on to the scene with home town club Santos.

The maverick forward's services were highly sought after by a string of clubs worldwide, with Catalan super heavyweights Barcelona eventually winning the race to seal his signature. His dream move to Spain saw him buddy up with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi to form the iconic trio of 'MSN'.

The three would terrorize defenses across Europe for three years, before Neymar moved on to Paris Saint-Germain last summer for a new world record fee of €222m.

Mesut Özil (Werder Bremen to Real Madrid)


Moving from mid-table mediocrity in the Bundesliga to the glitz and glamour of the Santiago Bernabeu was German playmaker Mesut Özil back in 2010.

Özil had steadily built up a growing reputation in Germany, excelling first at Schalke 04 before moving to Werder Bremen. He spent two seasons there, before his ability to unlock defenses captured the attention of Los Blancos.

Real came calling with a €15m offer, a relatively modest fee compared to prices nowadays. Özil quickly agreed personal terms in Madrid, shining in La Liga for three seasons before moving on to current club Arsenal for a €50m fee.

Ruud Gullit (PSV to Milan)

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Having enjoyed much success in his homeland for eight years, Dutch superstar Ruud Gullit eventually flew the nest in 1987 when he joined Serie A giants Milan.

I Rossoneri had endured a barren trophy-less run up until Gullit's arrival, but along with fellow countryman Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten, Gullit turned things around in the fashion capital of the world as Milan began to dominate proceedings in Italy.

He won three Scudetto trophies and back to back European Cups, proving undoubtedly his ability to compete with the best in the world.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting CP to Manchester United)

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Plucked from obscurity from leading Portuguese side Sporting CP in 2003 was a young, fresh faced Cristiano Ronaldo.

The then right winger had made only 25 appearances for his boyhood club prior to playing Manchester United in a pre-season friendly, but did enough to persuade manager Sir Alex Ferguson to part with £12m to bring him to England.

His career took off almost immediately, with Ronaldo quickly establishing himself as one of the most flamboyant tricksters in the Premier League. It wouldn't take long for Ronaldo to channel his ability into something more substantial, as the Portuguese superstar soon transformed himself into a global icon.

His dominating performances would eventually capture the attentions of the biggest club side in the world, with Real Madrid prizing him away from United's clutches for a world record fee of £80m in 2009.

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