By 90Min
June 10, 2019

Wait, Eden Hazard has left Chelsea to join Real Madrid? That one came out of nowhere, a real bolt from the blue(s).

The Belgian's arrival in Spain has been anticipated since the dawn of time, with Los Blancos identifying the latest galactico to revamp and reinvigorate their waning squad. £150m is the figure being thrown around, though the final sum could far exceed that.

That makes him Real's record purchase by some distance, though the La Liga battlers will hope he doesn't suffer the same fate as some of their... less successful signings. 

Here's a look at some of those players that flattered to deceive at the Bernabeu.

Gareth Bale

Denis Doyle/GettyImages

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I remember when Bale defied the laws of physics in the 2014 Copa del Rey final and absolute burned past Marc Bartra as he powered his way to the winning goal. I also remember when he put his side a goal up in the Champions League final that very same year.

It doesn't change the fact that the Welshman has clearly lost his appetite for the game and spent his entire Madrid career on a steady decline. Those mesmeric moments occurred in his first season since switching for a staggering £86m from Tottenham Hotspur.

Glimpses of his fantastic ability now come too few and far between, Bale evidently preferring to play a round of golf as he runs down his lucrative contract. Gareth, I'm not angry - I'm disappointed.

James Rodriguez

Aitor Alcalde/GettyImages

Rodriguez is technically still a Real Madrid player, though Zinedine Zidane won't thank you for reminding him of that fact. Like Bale, the Colombian has a glittering showreel from his time with the 13-time European champions, but that merely masks the distinctly average nature of his Bernabeu career.

A flash of creative brilliance here, a delicious finish there; Rodriguez is capable of producing the sublime. Unfortunately, he didn't do it enough under Zidane, with the coach benching his £63m man. He ultimately decided to join Bayern Munich on loan, where he has faced similar performance issues.


DANI POZO/GettyImages

If you're too young to have seen Kaka in his prime, you would be forgiven for thinking he was just an overpriced Brazilian. €68.5m looked just about spot on when Los Blancos brought him in from Milan, but no one could have predicted how peripheral the playmaker would be by the end of his first campaign in the Spanish capital.

He made a total of 20 appearances in all competitions the following year, but hardly anyone would have noticed his absence. It was such a shame to see him leave the Bernabeu as more of a joke than a jewel in the crown.

Thibaut Courtois

David Ramos/GettyImages

He only signed on last summer, but already Courtois may be ruing his decision to force a Chelsea exit. Not only do Blues fans hate him, but Real fans do to (although they hate pretty much everyone that doesn't score a hat-trick each week).

On returning to the shipwreck that is Real Madrid, Zidane axed the 28-year-old, first for Keylor Navas and then his son Luca Zidane. Courtois really is not wanted around. £35m in today's money isn't ridiculous, but it was still very poorly spent on this surprisingly-shaky shot-stopper.

Jonathan Woodgate

Denis Doyle/GettyImages

Sometimes debuts go perfectly, as though the footballing gods have written a script to ensure their favourite player shines. Woodgate's Madrid debut wasn't one of those.

For much of his career, the Middlesbrough native has been crocked. Indeed, he was injured when he actually penned his Bernabeu contract and completed his £13.4m move from Newcastle United.

As a result, he didn't make his first appearance for 13 months. When he eventually did take to the pitch in the famous white of Real, he managed to score an own goal and then got himself sent off. He actually did alright thereafter in terms of on-field displays, but those were vastly limited by fitness issues.

Asier Illarramendi


Los Blancos forked out €32.2m for Illarramendi in 2013, the most the club had ever paid for a Spaniard. The fact that they sold him back to Real Sociedad for roughly half the sum they acquired him for tells you all you need to know about the midfielder's experiences at the top level.

Now, I stress this: he wasn't that bad. He just wasn't particularly good either. Illarramendi brought steel and energy to the engine room, but not much else. He always looked a tier below his teammates in terms of quality on the ball.

Royston Drenthe 

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It seemed like decent business when then-president Ramon Calderon sanctioned a €14m bid for Drenthe, who had recently been named as the Player of the Tournament at the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championships.

His was a genuinely tragic downfall, the Dutchman struggling with anxiety brought on by the merciless criticism he received from supporters of the team. He never truly regained his confidence, gradually dropping to Everton, then Reading and finally into obscurity in Turkey and the UAE.

Walter Samuel

LLUIS GENE/GettyImages

Samuel looks like he is about to get nutmegged in the accompanying picture, which characterises his underwhelming year as a Real Madrid player.

It was anticipated that the Argentine would be a leader in the Madrid backline, yet he had almost no impact there. He was moved swiftly on to recoup some of the €25m the Spaniards had paid Roma 11 months prior. 

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