From Zidane to Ronaldo to Bale to James: Ranking Real Madrid's Galacticos

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2014

From Zidane to Ronaldo to Bale to James: Ranking Real Madrid's Galacticos

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    DOMENICO STINELLIS/Associated Press

    You can trace the origins of the term "Galacticos" back to the 1950s, when Real Madrid signed Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Raymond Kopa, Jose Santamaria and Francisco Gento in succession.

    However, its resurfacing in the 2000s, along with Florentino Perez's expensive taste, is how it is more commonly appreciated in the modern day.

    Since then, Perez, in two spells as Madrid president, has tried to ensure a Galactico comes in the door at the Bernabeu every summer.

    But how do you rank a Galactico?

    The following slides rank 10 of the most significant Galactico signings based on different criteria.

    A player's worth as a Galactico increases if Madrid are forced to pay a ton of money to ensure they can sign him, so the first factor considered is cost.

    Next up is star appeal—what sort of standing did a given player have in the game when Madrid signed him? 

    The third factor taken into consideration is advertising, something which, since the signing of David Beckham in 2003, has become increasingly more important in Galactico signings.

    And the final two factors were actually based on the pitch: performances for Los Blancos and titles won at the club.

    Each player was given a rank out of five for each category and then ranked from one to 10 based on their total score out of 25.

10. Michael Owen

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    Cost: 1

    Michael Owen arrived from Liverpool in the summer of 2004 for a fee of around £8 million. Even considering players cost less 10 years ago, it was still a pittance for a Galactico signing.

     

    Star appeal: 3

    After breaking onto the scene at the 1998 World Cup, Owen proceeded to light up the Premier League with Liverpool. And, in 2001, he was eventually rewarded with the Ballon d'Or, which is why Perez signed him—the Madrid president wanted all the recent winners of the prestigious award in his squad. Owen's stock was never as high as the likes of Ronaldo, however.

     

    Advertising appeal: 3

    Owen triggered interest in England and a few other markets, but his worldwide appeal couldn't be compared to Beckham's.

     

    Performances: 3

    Despite only spending one season in the Spanish capital, Owen ended the La Liga campaign as the player in the Madrid squad with the best goals-per-minutes ratio. He scored 16 goals throughout the season in all competitions, but he was never a regular.

     

    Titles won: 0

    It was a barren season for Madrid, so Owen cannot score in this category.

     

    Total: 10/25

9. Toni Kroos

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Cost: 3  

    With the price of footballers in 2014, Toni Kroos appears very reasonably priced at close to £30 million. You'd expect a much bigger fee to be considered a Galactico in this day and age.

     

    Star appeal: 4   

    Kroos won everything there was to be won with Bayern Munich and was a regular in the Germany side that won the World Cup in Brazil this summer. It's safe to say he's currently among the world's best midfield players.

     

    Advertising appeal: 3   

    Unlike some of his Real Madrid teammates, Kroos' signing is unlikely to signal an upturn in shirt sales and advertising revenue. With the likes of Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira in recent seasons, Los Blancos are already acquainted with the German market.

     

    Performances: 2   

    It's early days, but Kroos has looked good on the ball, controlling play in the middle; it's difficult to give any sort of rating in this category yet, though.

     

    Titles Won: 1

    He may only have been at the club for a short while, but Kroos has already got his hands on the UEFA Super Cup.

     

    Total: 13/25 

8. James Rodriguez

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    Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

    Cost: 5  

    James Rodriguez's move from Monaco to Real Madrid came in at around £63 million. It's quite a significant investment on a player that, before the World Cup, would not have fetched such an amount. It certainly ticks the Galactico box.

     

    Star appeal: 3   

    It's important to remember that James is in fashion now, but he's only spent a short time at the top. His form for Colombia in Brazil was brilliant, and he was good at Porto and Monaco, but would you have mentioned him in a breath with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi six months ago?

     

    Advertising appeal: 4   

    With the 23-year-old's arrival, Madrid look to have tapped into the Colombian market in a big way. At the player's presentation there were thousands of Colombians, while the status he developed this summer could make him an advertising darling over the next five years all over the world.

     

    Performances: 2   

    As with Kroos, it's a little too early to judge James in this category. He's yet to find his role in the Madrid side, but he did score in the Spanish Super Cup.

     

    Titles Won: 1

    He may only have been at the club for a short while, but James has already got his hands on the UEFA Super Cup.

     

    Total: 15/25 

7. Kaka

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    Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

    Cost: 5  

    When Kaka signed for Real Madrid from AC Milan for £56 million, it was a lot of money. Even by today's standards, that sort of sum still signifies a special player.

     

    Star appeal: 4   

    An experienced Milan side was interlaced with the magic of Kaka, who in the years before signing for Madrid was generally considered one of the very best players in the world. In that sense, his move to the Bernabeu made perfect sense. 

     

    Advertising appeal: 3   

    Kaka has never been in the Beckham leagues of advertising, but there was a time when he was sought after by the big brands.

     

    Performances: 2   

    For some reason it never quite worked out for Kaka in the Spanish capital. His time there was hindered by injuries, but even when fit he found it difficult to produce the form from his years in Italy.

     

    Titles Won: 2

    He was part of one La Liga success, a Copa del Rey and a Spanish Super Cup during four years in Spain...which is less than a trophy a year.

     

    Total: 16/25 

6. David Beckham

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    PAUL WHITE/Associated Press

    Cost: 3  

    Real Madrid paid Manchester United £25 million for David Beckham in 2003. It wasn't a lot by Galactico standards, but it was probably what he was worth.

     

    Star appeal: 3   

    Beckham was highly rated in England, and his set plays scared teams across Europe, but he never quite had the same quality as the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo.

     

    Advertising appeal: 5   

    He was the man who paved the way for this category, the man who made Florentino Perez realise spending big sums of money on the right player could be worth it in the long run. Beckham may not have been the first footballer to branch into marketing and advertising, but he's certainly played the most significant part in its evolution over the last 20 years.

     

    Performances: 4   

    Despite not having the skill of Zidane, Beckham always gave his all for Madrid. He worked hard, scored free kicks and was appreciated by the club's fans.

     

    Titles Won: 2

    In four years at the club, Beckham only lifted the league once and the Super Cup once, with the La Liga title only arriving in his final season at the Bernabeu.

     

    Total: 17/25 

5. Gareth Bale

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    Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

    Cost: 5  

    Tottenham received £77 million for Gareth Bale. £77 million. So far he's started to make inroads to pay back that fee, but he probably wasn't quite worth that much at the time.

     

    Star appeal: 3   

    Bale had been good for Spurs, but aside from some good performances in their Champions League run in 2010/11 and a brilliant 2012/13 season, he hadn't proved himself to be consistently brilliant at the very top level over more than one or two seasons.

     

    Advertising appeal: 4   

    When Real Madrid signed Bale his face was all over New York City advertising the new Premier League season. The Welshman has got advertising appeal.

     

    Performances: 3   

    Bale has increasingly improved at Real Madrid after struggling with injuries initially. His solo goal in the Copa del Rey final was a highlight, while he also scored in the Champions League final win against Atletico Madrid.

     

    Titles Won: 3

    In just 12 months at the Bernabeu, Bale has already won the Copa del Rey, the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup. Not bad.

     

    Total: 18/25 

4. Ronaldo

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    PAUL WHITE/Associated Press

    Cost: 4  

    Inter Milan received around £30 million for Ronaldo from Real Madrid. It was a lot, especially for 2002, but Florentino Perez might have gone higher.

     

    Star appeal: 5   

    Fresh from starring in Brazil's World Cup success in Japan and South Korea, Ronaldo embarked on his Madrid career. There was no better No. 9 in the world; you might be inclined to suggest there have been none as good since.

     

    Advertising appeal: 4   

    The best striker in the world? And he's from Brazil? People will always want to get involved in that for financial gain.

     

    Performances: 4   

    His goalscoring rate was impressive at the Bernabeu—scoring more than 100 goals for the club—but the goals brought very little success to the team in the grand scheme of things.

     

    Titles Won: 2

    Four years at the club and all he won was one La Liga title, one Spanish Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup—very disappointing by his standards.

     

    Total: 19/25 

3. Luis Figo

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    PAUL WHITE/Associated Press

    Cost: 4  

    Paying £38.7 million for Luis Figo was a lot of money for Real Madrid in 2000, although the price was inflated because they were shopping at Barcelona. A year later, however, they'd splash a lot more on Zidane.

     

    Star appeal: 4   

    Figo was the best player in Spain at the time and what's more, as previously mentioned, Madrid managed to lure him from their biggest rivals.

     

    Advertising appeal: 3   

    Back in 2000 players were signed on their merits on the pitch, rather than off them. That said, Figo still carried a certain weight in advertising, even back then.

     

    Performances: 4   

    In a five-year career at the Bernabeu, the Portuguese attacker was pretty good to watch. He played over 200 times for Los Blancos and scored over 50 goals.

     

    Titles Won: 5

    Figo was one of the few Galacticos, if not the only one, depending on your definition, to win multiple league titles with Real Madrid. He also won two Super Cups, a Champions League, a UEFA Super Cup and an Intercontinental Cup.

     

    Total: 20/25 

2. Zinedine Zidane

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Cost: 5  

    Florentino Perez and Real Madrid signed Zinedine Zidane from Juventus in 2001 for a world-record transfer fee of £48 million. That was 13 years ago. 

     

    Star appeal: 4   

    A World Cup and European Championship winner with France, Zidane was at the top of the game when he landed in the Spanish capital. He had also won two Serie A titles with Juventus, but the Italians had fallen short in two Champions League finals with the Frenchman in their side.

     

    Advertising appeal: 3   

    As the best player in the world, arguably, Zidane was certainly very marketable within the world of football. However, as with Figo, the sport hadn't quite developed in that area then as it has today.

     

    Performances: 5   

    It was a pleasure to watch Zidane grace the pitch in a Madrid shirt, and he will always be remembered for that volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final.

     

    Titles Won: 4

    Zidane won everything with Real Madrid, everything except the Copa del Rey (La Liga, Champions League Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup). However his failure to replicate any of those trophies in five years at the club was disappointing.

     

    Total: 21/25 

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Cost: 5  

    Another world-record purchase, Cristiano Ronaldo cost Real Madrid £80 million when they signed him from Manchester United in 2009.

     

    Star appeal: 5   

    Madrid signed Ronaldo just as him and Lionel Messi were beginning to be recognised as the two best players in the world. He had already won the Champions League with United in 2008, losing in the final the following season against Barcelona—the match was heavily dubbed as Ronaldo vs. Messi.

     

    Advertising appeal: 5   

    Just head to the "My Team" section on Cristiano Ronaldo's official website and you'll see why he gets a five for advertising appeal.

     

    Performances: 5   

    Ronaldo was good when he signed for Madrid, but he's got better and better since then. He averages more than a goal a game in well over 200 official games for the club.

     

    Titles Won: 4

    With the additions of the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup this year, Ronaldo has an impressive trophy haul from his time in Spain. However, for now, he is yet to replicate any of those titles other than the Copa del Rey. Another La Liga title or Champions League would go down nicely.

     

    Total: 24/25