Ranking Real Madrid's Top 5 January Transfer Window Signings of Past 10 Years
It's January, and another transfer window is here. For Real Madrid, it's expected to be a busy time.
Indeed, following the news of the transfer ban that FIFA has handed to the club for the summer of 2016 and the winter of 2017, the current window represents Madrid's only opportunity in the coming 18 months to make squad adjustments.
Consequently, a buying spree is possible.
Interestingly, however, Real Madrid's January transfer history is very different to the club's summer record. Whereas Madrid's roll call of Galacticos have arrived in the summer, the club's winter windows have been littered with failed signings such as Antonio Cassano, Julien Faubert and Thomas Gravesen.
In fact, true January success stories have been rare for Real Madrid, and across the following slides, we've ranked the small collection that could be considered successes.
5. Diego Lopez
When Real Madrid have ventured into the winter transfer market, they've often gone to South America to find their new faces, but in 2013, the club went shopping closer to home.
After Iker Casillas had suffered a serious hand injury, Madrid spent €3.5 million to bring goalkeeper Diego Lopez from Sevilla back to the Bernabeu, where he'd been a back-up for Casillas more than half a decade earlier.
Of course, Lopez's second stint at the club was an uneasy one, as he was plunged into the middle of a civil war between Casillas and former manager Jose Mourinho, whose rift with the club icon saw Lopez permanently installed as the team's first-choice gloveman.
Yet, even when Carlo Ancelotti replaced Mourinho, Lopez retained his position and started 36 of Madrid's 38 league games in 2013-14 in what was a very strong personal campaign for the goalkeeper. And though he departed to AC Milan at the end of that season in a move Marca called "a political solution to a footballing issue," Lopez, for 18 months, represented very good value for money.
In the same transfer window that Madrid signed Diego Lopez in, they also brought Casemiro to the Bernabeu.
When the Brazilian signed from Sao Paulo in January 2013, it was initially a loan deal, and rather than being thrust into the first team, he started off in the B team. In the summer that followed, Madrid made his move permanent.
Admittedly, Casemiro has needed more time than others on this list to make an impact, but after returning to the club last summer following a loan spell at Porto, the 23-year-old has shown this season that's he's an excellent signing, having enjoyed a breakout period under former boss Rafa Benitez.
Indeed, Benitez clearly valued the qualities of Casemiro, whose strength, rugged ball-winning and defensive commitment neatly complements the attacking talent around him.
The midfielder will now hope new manager Zinedine Zidane values him similarly.
3. Lassana Diarra
In 2016, it's impossible to imagine Real Madrid spending €20 million to take a player from Portsmouth. But back in 2009, that's exactly what they did when signing Lassana Diarra.
For the defensive midfielder, it was a hefty price tag to carry, but he began justifying it very quickly.
Under Juande Ramos, Diarra immediately became a key cog in an improved Real Madrid midfield, offering strength, composure and defensive protection that had previously been missing, drawing comparisons with Claude Makelele in the process.
Diarra then continued to be important to Los Blancos under the management of Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho, and by the time his Real Madrid career ended in 2012, he'd made over 100 appearances for the club and become one of its rare winter-transfer success stories.
2. Gonzalo Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain was never loved at Real Madrid. Not ever. And he might still be wondering why.
Signed in January 2007, the Argentinian took time to settle at the Bernabeu but quickly became prolific once he did.
After scoring only 10 league goals in his first two seasons combined, Higuain stormed to 22 in 2008-09. The following season, he reached 27. Two seasons later, when Madrid won the title in 2011-12, he notched 22 again.
Higuain scored big goals, too; he scored the one that clinched the 2007-08 title, after all—one of three titles he won while at Real Madrid. And yet, it was always his misses that were the focus. Even isolated poor performances drew furious criticism.
He was excellent. But he was never loved.
He was signed all the way back in January 2007. And almost a decade on in 2016, he's still there. Perhaps better than ever, too.
As a result, it's simple: Marcelo is unquestionably the club's finest January signing.