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Real Madrid’s 10 most expensive transfers of all time

James Shearman
Jude Bellingham, Real Madrid, 2023/24
© ProShots

Real Madrid‘s status as a footballing superpower is indisputable, something they underscored in the summer of 2022 by winning a record-extending 14th Champions League.

They built on that success by landing Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni for €80 million before splashing €103m on England international Jude Bellingham in 2023.

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Those two transfers are just the latest in a long line of blockbuster deals that Real Madrid have concluded over the years.

From Zinedine Zidane to Cristiano Ronaldo, Los Blancos have a history of breaking records and shaking up the transfer market with a ruthless desire to be the best.

So who are the 10 most expensive transfer deals in Real Madrid history, and how many have justified their transfer fee?

READ MORE: Chelsea’s 10 most expensive transfers of all time

READ MORE: Barcelona’s 10 most expensive transfers of all time

10. Luis Figo – €60m (from Barcelona, 2000)

A switch from Barcelona to Real Madrid seems unthinkable, even to this day, but Luis Figo had other ideas back in the summer of 2000.

For a then-world record €60m fee, the Portuguese winger’s signing marked the beginning of Florentino Perez’s Galactico era of global superstars at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Luis Figo joined Real Madrid in 2000
© ProShots – Luis Figo joined Real Madrid in 2000

Figo was a resounding success for Real Madrid and a record of 37 goals in 164 games fails to capture the genius of the one-time Ballon d’Or winner.

9. Luka Jovic – €63m (from Eintracht Frankfurt, 2019)

When Luka Jovic registered 17 goals and five assists in 25 Bundesliga starts for Eintracht Frankfurt at the age of 20, the Serb looked set to go onto greater things.

However, a €63m move to Real Madrid didn’t go to plan. Just two La Liga goals later, and Jovic found himself back at Frankfurt on loan before joining Fiorentina on a free transfer in the summer of 2022. He also flopped in Florence before moving on to Milan.

One of the worst signings in Real’s history in terms of return on investment, the notion that Jovic could have been the long-term successor to Karim Benzema now looks very silly indeed.

8. Kaka – €67m (from AC Milan, 2009)

Kaka came with such lofty expectations that, in some ways, he was an anticlimactic signing for Real.

He arrived the same summer as Cristiano Ronaldo, but a series of injuries restricted the Brazil star to just 85 La Liga starts in four years, with 23 goals signalling a decline from his near ‘one in two’ record at AC Milan.

Kaka playing for Orlando City
© ProShots – Kaka playing for Orlando City

That said, contributions to La Liga and Copa Del Rey titles mean he was far from a failure, despite his troubles.

7. James Rodriguez – €75m (from Monaco, 2014)

After a stellar World Cup showing for Colombia, James signed during Carlo Ancelotti’s first Madrid stint and immediately proved his worth with 24 goal contributions in 29 league games during his first campaign.

However, the playmaker’s production steadily decreased until 2017, when he was shipped to Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal.

After returning to Real Madrid, Rodriguez was largely made to watch on from the sidelines before he joined Everton in 2020.

6. Zinedine Zidane – €77.5m (from Juventus, 2001)

A World Cup and European Championship winner with France, Zinedine Zidane made the move to Los Blancos for a then-world record €77.5 million fee.

And while the team’s success in his era was slightly underwhelming given the talent on show, Zidane earned himself legendary status during his five years at the club, before taking charge as head coach in more recent times.

An unbelievable transfer, for an unbelievable athlete, who many would argue ranks as one of the greatest players ever to lace up a pair of boots. And he scored one of the most iconic goals in Champions League history with the winner against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 final.

5. Aurelien Tchouameni – €80m (from Monaco, 2022)

Aurelien Tchouameni could join the €100m club if add-ons are met, but for now, his move from Monaco to Real Madrid cost €80m in the summer of 2022.

Aurelien Tchouameni joined Real Madrid in 2022
© ProShots – Aurelien Tchouameni joined Real Madrid in 2022

It was a deal that raised eyebrows because of the fee, largely because of Tchouameni’s lack of top-level experience.

When he joined the club, he had not played a minute of Champions League football and had only a handful of appearances for the France national team. Liverpool and Chelsea both wanted him, but Real Madrid won the race to land their Casemiro replacement.

Tchouameni is steadily developing into an important player for Madrid.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo – €94m (from Manchester United, 2010)

The greatest player to wear the famous white of Real Madrid?

A supreme talent that emerged at Manchester United and was given the platform to make football history for the Spanish giants. Cristiano Ronaldo won it all in Madrid.

Upon his departure in 2018, Ronaldo had notched a cool 450 goals in just 438 Real Madrid appearances, becoming the club’s all-time record goal-scorer in the process.

Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid
© ProShots – Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid

And, had it not been for rival Lionel Messi, Ronaldo would have been out on his own as the best of his generation, and perhaps of all time.

3. Gareth Bale – €101m (from Tottenham, 2014)

Gareth Bale’s final few seasons at Real Madrid didn’t go as planned, but he should be regarded as a Los Blancos legend no matter what.

The Welshman was a vital part of an all-time great front three, alongside Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, and he deserves the appreciation of the Real Madrid fanbase.

Bale left the club in 2022, with 258 appearances, 106 goals, 67 assists and 18 trophies across a brilliant nine-year career at the Santiago Bernabeu.

He is also, perhaps, the scorer of the Champions League final’s most incredible goal.

2. Jude Bellingham – €103m (from Dortmund, 2023)

Bellingham moved to Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2023 for an initial €103m, although that fee could rise higher with potential add-ons.

Los Blancos saw off competition from Liverpool and Manchester City to sign the best young midfielder in the world, with Bellingham winning the Kopa Trophy just months after joining Real Madrid.

Bellingham, who had starred for England at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, enjoyed a sensational first season at Madrid. He top-scored for the club from midfield and was considered by many as the best player in Europe for large periods of 2023-24.

1. Eden Hazard – €115m (from Chelsea, 2019)

The most disastrous Real Madrid transfer in history. Eden Hazard endured four shocking years in Spain after his €115m move from Chelsea.

Eden Hazard retired from football in 2023
© ProShots – Eden Hazard retired from football in 2023

A Chelsea icon, it was always a matter of when rather than if Hazard would leave England to fulfil his lifelong ambition of playing for Real. But, maybe the date of the transfer was more important than first imagined.

Hazard was plagued by injuries and bad form at Madrid, making just three starts and scoring only one goal in his final campaign before being released on a free transfer. He retired from football in 2023 at 32 years old, after leaving Real Madrid with just seven goals in 76 appearances.

The 10 most expensive Real Madrid signings of all time

Player From Fee Season
1. Eden Hazard Chelsea €115m 2019
2. Jude Bellingham Borussia Dortmund €103m 2023
3. Gareth Bale Tottenham €101m 2013
4. Cristiano Ronaldo Man Utd €94m 2009
5. Aurelien Tchouameni Monaco €80m 2022
6. Zinedine Zidane Juventus €77.5m 2001
7. James Rodriguez Monaco €75m 2014
8. Kaka Milan €67m 2009
9. Luka Jovic Eintracht Frankfurt €63m 2019
10. Luis Figo Barcelona €60m 2000

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