Real Madrid, the Galacticos.
For the past couple of decades, the Spanish giants have been synonymous with lavish spending. From Luis Figo and David Beckham to Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, club president Florentino Perez has spared no expense in assembling the world’s most glamorous collection of superstars.
In recent years, however, that perception has been off the mark. With the exception of Thibaut Courtois’ arrival from Chelsea last summer, Real have stayed away from big-name signings since 2014, when Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez were snapped up.
Since then, a succession of managers – Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez, Zinedine Zidane, Julen Lopetegui, Santi Solari and now Zidane again – have called upon almost exactly the same set of players, with long-established stars Keylor Navas, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric, Isco, Bale, Ronaldo and Karim Benzema forming the backbone of the team year after year.
Not any longer. That sustained period of gentle evolution has made way for a full-on revolution, with Perez overseeing a frenzy of spending which has already reached record levels: more than 300m euros has been splashed since the end of last summer, surpassing the club’s previous transfer window record of 254m euros set in 2009 with the capture of Ronaldo, Benzema, Kaka and Xabi Alonso.
Why the drastic change in policy? Who are the new men? Will there be more? And what does it mean for the long-serving stars?
Zidane wins Perez power play… eventually
Immediately after overcoming Liverpool in May 2018 to lift the Champions League trophy for the third consecutive season, Zidane took an unusual step for a continent-conquering manager: he quit, arguing he could not continue to deliver success with the resources at his disposal.
Zidane has regularly stated his belief that success in the domestic league is the greatest test of a team’s capabilities, and he felt the Champions League triumph of 2