Real Madrid Transfers: 10 Worst Signings in Club's History

Vijay MuraliAnalyst IOctober 16, 2011

Real Madrid Transfers: 10 Worst Signings in Club's History

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    Real Madrid are one of the most successful teams in the world and have won numerous European Cups and league titles, which indicates the strength of the teams that they have had.

    The club has established an excellent stream of commercial revenue, which allows them to spend plenty of money on big money transfers such as the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Kaka in their recent history. The club has also shown the door to a number of under-performing players as well as managers in the past.

    It is evident that every staff at the club has the sole aim of winning trophies, and they have had consistent success in the past. Madrid have made some excellent signings such as Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo, but they have also had their share of poor signings. Many players have been signed by Madrid at a price well above their realistic valuation, and some have not lived up to their reputation. 

    Every player faces immense pressure when playing for Madrid, as the supporters are demanding and expect the players to be of the expected quality. However, some of the new signings have not performed to their potential and have subsequently been shipped out of Madrid.

    Here is a list of 10 players who were not great since being signed by Madrid.

1. Jonathan Woodgate (2004)

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    Jonathan Woodgate, who is currently playing for Stoke City, must be considered as one of the worst signings in the club's history because of his transfer fee of £13.4 million, and it proved to be a complete waste of money for the Spanish giants.

    Woodgate had problems with injuries in his time at Leeds United and Newcastle United before his move to Madrid, and it did seem a strange move from Madrid at that time.

    Unfortunately for Woodgate, he continued to have serious injury problems after joining the club and did not feature in a single competitive game for over a year since his signing. When he did make his much awaited debut for the club, he scored an own goal, and though Madrid won the game, it was a poor one for the defender.

    After a few games for the club—starting simply to show his quality—his injury curse struck again and Madrid offloaded the defender, first on loan and then for a permanent move to Middlesbrough.

2. Julien Faubert (2009)

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    Though Real Madrid did not technically sign Julien Faubert, the decision to sign Faubert on loan from West Ham United was bizarre to say the least.

    Real Madrid are known to sign quality players regardless of their high transfer fees, but to sign Faubert, who never had the quality to play for Madrid, was ridiculous. The Frenchman failed to make any positive impression for Real Madrid, as was expected by many, and they obviously did not want to sign him on a permanent basis.

    Faubert then returned to West Ham United, and though he did have a decent 2009-10 season, he had a poor 2010-11 season, where he was not a regular for many games. He had also infuriated many of the supporters with his poor behavior, and he was expected to leave the relegated club. However, he is still at West Ham playing in the Championship.

    Faubert is no more than a lower-table Premiership player at the maximum, and Madrid's weird decision to sign him on loan meant that they had to pay wages for a footballer who was never good enough to wear the shirt.

3. Walter Samuel (2004)

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    Walter Samuel was signed by Real Madrid in 2004 for a transfer fee of around €25 million from Italian club AS Roma, where he was considered as one of the best defenders in Europe.

    However, he failed to live up to his reputation for Real Madrid, and after a season of relatively poor performances, he was sold to Inter Milan in 2005, having never really establishing himself as a top defender for the Spanish giants.

    Samuel has, however, gone on to be impressive for Inter Milan after his transfer from Madrid and has helped the club win several trophies in his time with the club. He along with Brazilian international Lucio formed a very solid centre back partnership, which helped Inter Milan—then managed by Jose Mourinho—win the treble, a historic accomplishment.

    Following his excellent performance against Barcelona in the Champions League, which helped Inter Milan progress to the final, Fabio Capello—who was his coach at Roma—expressed surprise at the fact that Samuel never reached the heights he was capable of at Real Madrid.

4. Emerson (2006)

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    Brazilian midfielder Emerson was signed from Juventus by Real Madrid for a fee of around €16 million, as he followed manager Fabio Capello to Madrid.

    Emerson was a key player for Capello during his time at Roma and Juventus and was then brought to Madrid by the Italian tactician. However, he had a shaky start and failed to live up to his transfer fee, and it led to the Madrid fans being frustrated with the midfielder.

    Emerson was subsequently left out of the starting line-up for several games by Capello, but his form started picking up towards the end of the season, as Capello's team managed to win the La Liga in the end. However, it did not stop Capello from getting the sack, and Emerson was also sold by the club to Milan for a considerably lesser fee.

5. Nicolas Anelka (1999)

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    Nicolas Anelka was brought to Arsenal as a raw youngster, and under the guidance of Arsene Wenger, he did have an impressive season for the Gunners, helping them win the league.

    However, he did have issues at Arsenal, and his brother even threatened that Anelka would go on strike if he was not allowed to move. Eventually, Arsenal did reach an agreement with Madrid for a record fee of £23 million, and they brought in Thierry Henry to replace him.

    With regard to Real Madrid, they had signed a youngster of immense potential but had plenty of attitude problems. Though Anelka did perform well on some occasions, he did have problems with Madrid and did not get along well with his teammates, and Madrid were fortunate to sell the French striker at a minimal loss to Paris St. Germain after just a season.

6. Thomas Gravesen (2005)

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    Thomas Gravesen had a good spell for Everton between 2000 and 2005 and did contribute to the club's rise in the table in the 2004-05 season. His performances attracted the attention of Spanish giants Real Madrid, and he signed for the club in the summer of 2005. He was played mostly as a defensive midfielder at Madrid, a role he was not used to playing at Everton, and he failed to impress in his time at the club.

    The tough tackling midfielder also did have a reputation for reckless tackles and having a bad temper, and he did have a fight with Brazilian international and then-teammate Robinho, which also further pushed him towards the exit door. The then-Madrid manager Fabio Capello, when asked whether Gravesen had had a poor attitude in preseason, said:

    Possibly. But I am not going to have problems with him. He is a little different but he works hard which is important to me. His behaviour? I don't like it, he wants everyone to do what he wants, and I have told him so.

    Real Madrid were looking to offload the midfielder before the start of the 2006-07 season and succeeded in doing so by selling the Dane to Celtic.

7. Antonio Cassano (2006)

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    AC Milan forward Antonio Cassano is a player of immense ability but has had attitude problems in the past and has clashed with teammates and managers in some of his previous clubs.

    In his time at Roma, Cassano and Francesco Totti did not get along too well, and the former did leave the club to join Real Madrid, who paid a bargain price in January 2007 considering that he had only six months left on his Roma contract.

    Though it was evident that he did have the talent to play for a top club, he clashed with manager Fabio Capello and was subsequently benched for a number of games. After only one and a half seasons with the club, he moved away from Madrid to join Sampdoria, initially on loan and then on a permanent basis. However, he did have problems with Sampdoria hierarchy as well, and he did move to AC Milan in January 2011.

8. Javier Saviola (2007)

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    Javier Saviola was signed by Barcelona as a 20-year-old from River Plate, where he had a successful spell, mostly as a teenager, and was regarded by many at that time to be Argentina's future striker.

    Saviola stayed for three seasons with the Blaugrana before he was first loaned out to Monaco and then Sevilla before returning to Barcelona for one season to see out his contract with the club.

    Real Madrid then signed the striker on a free deal from arch-rivals Barcelona, but on a lucrative contract for the striker. The Argentina international failed to show his quality at Madrid, and after two years with the club, he scored only five goals in 28 appearances. And with the arrival of Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Saviola did leave the club in 2009.

9. Royston Drenthe (2007)

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    Royston Drenthe was one of the more recent transfer flops from Real Madrid, as the Spanish giants purchased the talented youngster from Feyenoord after protracted transfer negotiations for a fee of €13 million, and he failed to live up to his reputation.

    It was probably too early to move to Madrid for the winger, who could also play as a left back, and he failed to impress when he did get opportunities.

    He also lost confidence during Juande Ramos' time as manager, as the Real Madrid supporters were not happy with his performances and expressed as much. Drenthe was unsurprisingly loaned out in the 2009-10 season to Hercules, and though there was the possibility of him being sold, Madrid were not able to find a club to sell him to in the last summer and instead loaned him again on deadline day to cash-strapped Everton.

    Manager David Moyes has the reputation of getting the best from his team, and hopefully, Drenthe can show some of his quality in the Premiership. However, there seems to be no future for him at Madrid with the signings of Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria and the return to form of Ricardo Kaka.

10. Elvir Baljic (1999)

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    Elvir Baljic was signed for a large transfer fee of €18 million by Real Madrid from Fenerbahce on the advice of head coach John Toshack, and he turned out to be one of the worst signings in the club's history, failing to live up to his transfer fee. The Bosnian striker failed to impress at his time, and injuries to him during his spell at Madrid also did him no favors.

    With John Toshack sacked soon after his signing, he was provided even lesser opportunities under new coach Vicente Del Bosque. The striker was not good enough for Madrid at a time when the club had some of the best talents in the world, and he made only 11 league appearances, scoring a goal in that season.

    He was subsequently loaned out after that season to former club Fenerbahce and then Rayo Vallecano before his contract was terminated by Real Madrid in 2002.

    He was voted by the readers of Spanish newspaper Marca as the second worst signing in the league's history behind defender Jonathan Woodgate.