La Liga: Galactico No More at Real Madrid

Nathan CliftonCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2008

It has taken a while, but now Real Madrid can be thankful that they have rid themselves of that ridiculous “Galactico” tag.

Gone are the Beckhams and Ronaldos, and in come the Sneijders and Heinzes. These guys are the future of Real Madrid.

Let’s look at some of the players that started and continued the “Galactico” craze at this famous club:

Luis Figo, from Barcelona. Not many players had made this courageous switch between fierce rivals but Figo did—and felt the full force of Barcelona fans at every game they played.

He was a great player for Real. Playing on the right hand side of the field he was a master at set-pieces, and enjoyed a five=year spell at the club before joining Inter Milan.

He was formerly the most expensive player in the world, which only further adds to his “Galactico” status.

Zinedine Zidane remains the most expensive player in the world and is one of the greatest players in modern times. $102 million is a lot of money to spend on a single player, but he bought a lot of success to the club.

In Madrid, he will be remembered for his dazzling skill and scoring the winner in the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final—a superb volley from 20 yards, surely one of the greatest of all time.

For France, his most famous moment came as recently as the 2006 World Cup, where he infamously headbutted Marco Matterazi of Italy which resulted in a red card and the end of Zidane’s illustrious career.

David Beckham. Where to start? This transfer saga all began when, during half-time in an FA Cup game against Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson couldn’t contain his rage, which resulted in a boot flying across the locker room and finding David Beckham’s head.

It was from this day you knew Beckham was on his way out of Old Trafford. At the end of a title-winning season of 2002-03, Beckham was sent packing to Madrid, where he was the subject of an interesting question: Did Madrid purchase David Beckham the footballer or David Beckham the commercial icon?

That answer changed throughout Beckham’s time in Spain.

At one point it seemed a purely commercial venture, seeing Beckham as a money maker as the club shop continued to sell Madrid replica shirts with his infamous 23 on them.

But closer to the end of his time in Spain, he seemed to up his game. Rumours were rife that he could be called up to the England squad—but it was these rumours that spurred on his performances. Once he had signed that contract with L.A. Galaxy, it seemed to drive him on, and it was these latter performances that helped Real Madrid win La Liga in his final season.

I have only touched on three “Galacticos,” but of course there were many more—Ronaldo, Emerson, Walter Samuel, and Antonio Cassano, among others.

So Madrid have had some world class players, and have become infamous all around world football. But now they have bought in some players who will have to fight for their place in the team, and will not be guaranteed a place each week.

It is this mentality, instilled in these transferred players, that can help Real Madrid dominate Spanish soccer again.

Wesley Sneijder, who I back to become one of the best players on the planet, joined from Ajax in the summer.

Pepe, a Portugese international from Porto, has overcome his injury to help Madrid to the top of the table and close in on the defence of their crown.

Robinho, although he has been at the club for a few seasons, has emerged as one of Europe’s leading attacking talents.

Then there are the usual suspects: Ruud van Nistelrooy, Raul, and Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro—all of whom have played a fundamental role in the resurgence of this truly great club.

At the time of writing Real currently lead Barcelona in the title race in La Liga. No doubt there will be more twists and turns in this fascinating league.

I am very confident that the past players that played for Real Madrid will be smiling on knowing that the group of players that are there now are close to emulating what they once achieved.