Real Madrid is arguably one of the most powerful football clubs in the world today, a position they’ve held for decades. Their influence is far-reaching, spanning every habitable continent on the planet. For decades, Los Blancos has reigned supreme in European football.
Much of their dominance has come from their business in the transfer market, with Real Madrid frequently spending large sums to maintain their position. While some signings were astute, Florentino Perez’s Galacticos policy ensured that money was lavished on acquiring world-class players.
During his first presidency, Perez popularized the Galacticos ideology. The origins of bringing world-class stars to the Bernabeu, on the other hand, can be traced back to the 1950s. At the time, Real Madrid signed notable players such as Alfredo di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Francisco Gento, and Jose Santamaria.
The club has seen its fair share of galacticos in the twenty-first century. Real Madrid has easily assembled a star-studded squad, but not all signings have been impactful for the club. Players such as Eden Hazard have struggled to maintain their world-class status, resulting in financial losses for Los Blancos.
So, without further ado, here are five of the most influential signings at the Santiago Bernabeu in the twenty-first century:
Number 5: Luka Modric
In 2012, Real Madrid spent €34 million to sign Luka Modric from Tottenham Hotspur. Modric struggled at first, earning the moniker “worst signing of the season.” However, it was only a temporary setback for the Croatian, who quickly rose to become one of the world’s most important midfielders.
Modric has helped Los Blancos achieve continental dominance, winning 16 trophies along the way, including three consecutive Champions League titles. Modric’s brilliant midfield performances also broke the Ballon d’Or duopoly established by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
After leading Croatia to the FIFA World Cup final and winning the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2018, Croatian was awarded the award in 2018.
Number 4: Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos is arguably one of Real Madrid’s greatest signings of all time. After joining the club from Sevilla for a record €27 million fee in 2005, the talisman grew to become the world’s undisputed best defender for more than a decade.
Although Ramos now plays for Paris Saint-Germain, he was the former Real Madrid manager during one of the club’s most successful periods.
Ramos has won every major trophy with Real Madrid, including multiple Champions League and La Liga titles. Before moving to Paris, the center-back played 671 games for Real Madrid and scored 101 goals. In the eyes of Madridistas, Ramos will always be a legend.
Number 3: Zinedine Zidane
When Real Madrid paid €77.5 million to bring Zinedine Zidane from Juventus to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2001, it made headlines around the world.
Zidane had won the World Cup and the European Championship and was a perfect fit for the Galacticos mentality. It was an unbelievable, world-record transfer for the world’s most powerful player. While Real Madrid was not at their best as a team at the time, Zidane’s incredible performances won the hearts of Madridistas.
Unsurprisingly, he returned to manage Real Madrid and catapulted them back to glory with renewed dominance. Between 2016 and 2018, Zidane led the club to three consecutive Champions League titles.
The football manager is currently unemployed. However, it is unknown whether he will return to Santiago Bernabeu, as he has done twice before. Zidane is an influential enigma who is both one of the best players and managers in the world.
Number 2: Luis Figo
Rarely does a player move from Camp Nou to the Santiago Bernabeu? Florentino Perez, on the other hand, was not joking about the lengths he was willing to go for his galacticos. Luis Figo is regarded as the first major transfer in the Florentino era, with the star-making the unexpected switch and excelling in his new surroundings.
Los Blancos did not make a cheap signing, given that the Ballon d’Or winner came from a rival club. Barcelona’s unsatisfactory agreement to the deal was guided by a record €62 million in 2002.
After five years with the Catalans, Figo moved on to Real Madrid, where he won seven trophies, including three continental titles.
Number 1: Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid broke the world record when it paid Manchester United €94 million to facilitate Cristiano Ronaldo‘s transfer to the Santiago Bernabeu. The Portuguese maestro, on the other hand, paid back his Galactico fee time and time again with some of the best performances the world has ever seen.
Ronaldo eventually left Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018 and is now back with Manchester United. However, during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, the star broke numerous records and is Real Madrid’s all-time top-scorer with 451 goals from 438 matches. With the club, Ronaldo also won four Champions League titles, three Club World Cups, and two La Ligas.
Ronaldo’s incredible goal-scoring ability, combined with all of the trophies he has won at Real Madrid, make him the most influential signing in the club’s recent history. Many consider the 36-year-old to be Los Blancos’ greatest signing of all time, and for a good reason.