Real Madrid are famous for signing every year some of the best players in the world. However, many times they have also signed players whose contribution to the club was ridiculous, when not disastrous.
Los Blancos have spent millions in well-known stars who spent their nights in Madrid partying, and promising footballers who ended up playing for an unknown Russian team.
It is difficult to select only ten, because the list of terrible Real Madrid transfers is endless. Yet, here at Real Madrid News we have made an effort to pick those that we consider to be the biggest failures:
10. Royston Drenthe
Drenthe is a perfect example of a talented player who ruins his career for having a terrible attitude. He arrived at Madrid in 2007 on a 14-million-euro deal from Feyenoord. At the age of 20, he was one of the most promising left-backs in Europe. He never proved his quality while playing for Madrid and was sent on loan to Hercules, where he became a ‘persona non grata’. He had several traffic accidents, he intervened on a TV reality show and extended his holidays without having the club’s permission. He was loaned to Everton. When his contract with Los Blancos expired, nobody wanted to sign him, and he spent a few months at home before signing for a minor Russian team.
9. Robert Prosinecki
President Ramon Mendoza paid six million euros in 1991 to bring 21-year-old Croatian pearl Robert Prosinecki to Real Madrid. He was without a doubt one of the best players of the time, having won the European Cup with Red Star Belgrade. He was nicknamed ‘Crystal Man’ due to his multiple injury problems, and he became famous for his addiction to smoking. He never succeeded at the Santiago Bernabeu, neither at Barcelona, where he played one year after leaving Madrid.
8. Rodrigo Fabri
Very few people remember this player even played at Real. The Brazilian midfielder arrived in 1998 and only made five appearances for Los Blancos. He was loaned to Flamengo, Valladolid, Sporting and Gremio, the only club where he succeeded. That earned him a move to Atletico Madrid when his contract with Los Blancos expired, but he also failed at the Vicente Calderon.
7. Antonio Cassano
Cassano arrived at Real Madrid from AS Roma in January 2006 as a star signing for Los Blancos. Soon it became clear that he was too fat for playing at the biggest club in the world. He appeared on the newspapers very often, but only because of the scandals he was involved in. In his biography, he confessed that he often went to the games after having partied all night. Apparently, when the players stayed at the team’s hotel the night before a match, he would invite women and eat croissants after having sex with them. He was sent to Sampdoria on loan and later signed for that team on a permanent deal.
6. Dejan Petkovic
Despite being known as Rambo, Dejan Petkovic had little in common with Sylvester Stallone’s character. He was famous for his physical strength, although in truth he was a pretty average athlete. The Serbian was part of one of the worst Real Madrid teams in history. He arrived in 1995 and contributed to one of the worst seasons for the club, failing to qualify for any European competition. He was loaned to Sevilla and Racing de Santander but he barely played 21 games in his two seasons in Spain before moving to Brazil, where he had a more successful career.
5. Pedrag Spasic
Spasic is remembered as one of the worst defenders to have ever played for Madrid. He arrived at the club in 1990 on a 1.2-million-euro transfer, a huge amount for the time. The Serbian became famous for the own goals he scored, especially one superb header in a 2-1 defeat against Barcelona. He was harshly critizised by the fans and never convinced anyone at the Santiago Bernabeu. ‘Agent Spasic’ only played 22 games for Los Merengues before moving to Osasuna.
4. Jonathan Woodgate
The English defender arrived at Real Madrid in 2004 on a 20-million-euro move from Newcastle. He didn’t play a single game in his first season, as he was injured at the time of the transfer. In his first official game, he scored an own goal and got sent off. He played 14 games and spent 452 days on the sidelines in his two seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Many argue that Kaka has been the worst signing in Real Madrid history, especially in economic terms. At least the Brazilian sold plenty of shirts that helped get some return in the 65 million euros invested on him, which the rest of the players in this list didn’t. Kaka arrived from AC Milan in the summer of 2009 as another Galactico, considered one of the best players in the world. However, at Real he showed a terrible version of himself, and neither Manuel Pellegrini nor Jose Mourinho were able to get something good out of him. He played 83 games in four seasons and ended up returning to Milan on a free transfer.
2. Julien Faubert
In the winter of 2009, Real Madrid were in need of reinforcing the squad, and someone from the club believed that a substitute from West Ham United could be the man they were seeking. Faubert arrived on a loan move for two million euros. Everything that happened to him at the club was hilarious: he missed a training session because he thought he had the day off, he fell asleep on the bench during a game against Villarreal and his manager defined his performances as “dull.” Faubert’s signing was such a big mistake that nobody took responsibility for it, and all the parts involved have always denied they had anything to do in bringing him to Madrid.
1. Elvir Baljic
In 1999, Baljic became one of the most expensive players in Real Madrid history after completing a 22-million-euro move from Fenerbahce. He was little known in the big European leagues, but the fact that he had scored 18 games in one season in Turkey and that he was nicknamed the Rivaldo from the Balcans seemed pretty good for Los Blancos directors. Baljic made 15 poor appearances before suffering a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left knee. He was sent on loan to Fenerbahce and Rayo Vallecano with little success. The Bosnia international ended up signing for Galatasaray when his contract with Real expired. Nobody witnessed a decent performance from Baljic in a football field since that day in 1999 when he won the ‘lottery’ and signed a deal with Los Blancos.