13-time European champions Real Madrid have become accustomed to success, superstars and silverware on and off the pitch for most of their celebrated history.
However, as with all massive European clubs, they've made one or two questionable signings over the years. Real Madrid fans, the Madridistas, have grown accustomed to seeing household names sign for their club but every now and then, Florentino Perez dipped into slightly less popular waters and the fish weren't always prize catches.
Here's a quick reminder of some of them.
🇩🇰 Thomas Gravesen
£2.5m from Everton
When Claude Makélélé left Real Madrid for Chelsea in 2003, he left a gaping hole in the heart of their midfield. The Frenchman was one of the finest defensive midfielders in the world and Madrid never really replaced him. Bald-headed Dane Thomas Gravesen arrived in January of 2005 and Madrid fans were a little underwhelmed. He turned out 51 times during 18 months at the Bernabeu, making constant fouls that allowed Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Luis Figo to flourish ahead of him. Gravesen picked up eight yellow cards in 17 league appearances. He wasn't bad, he just wasn't good enough for a club of Madrid's stature.
🇫🇷 Julien Faubert
Loan from West Ham
Ahead of the 2008/2009 campaign, Real Madrid had a busy summer of recruitment, bringing in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Rafael van der Vaart and Ezequiel Garay, and they were joined by West Ham's one-cap Frenchman Julien Faubert who came in on loan. Faubert hadn't impressed at West Ham and made just two appearances for the Los Blancos during his loan spell. Memorably, he once missed training because he thought he had an off day and was once pictured asleep on the bench during a LaLiga game.
As Real Madrid signings go, this is probably the most bizarre of them all.
🇮🇹 Antonio Cassano
£5m from Roma
There was never doubting young Italy striker Antonio Cassano's ability as a footballer, but there were plenty of eyebrows raised around his temperament and ability to cut it at Real Madrid. Halfway through 2005/06, Madrid took a risk on Cassano and he turned out to be a luxury addition. With club icon and captain Raúl, the legendary Ronaldo and brilliant marquee signing Robinho already at the club, Cassano was surplus to requirements right from the start.
Two goals in 19 league appearances wasn't a good return for Cassano, who angered the club's hierarchy for being overweight and was fined for altercations with manager Fabio Capello.
🏴 Jonathan Woodgate
£14m from Newcastle
Injuries plagued the talented Englishman throughout his time at Newcastle and so it proved again when he made the giant leap up to Real Madrid. £14m, at the time, was a lot of money for a defender who couldn't be relied on to stay fit for long periods. The centre-back signed at the same time as fellow Englishman Michael Owen and Argentinian hardman Walter Samuel.
Woodgate didn’t make one appearance in his first season and when he did finally make his Real Madrid debut, he scored an own goal and received a red card in the same game. After two seasons in the Spanish capital, he was loaned back to Middlesbrough then eventually sold outright.
🇹🇷 Hamit Altintop
Free transfer from Bayern Munich
Turkey international Hamit Altintop enjoyed a decent career in Germany's Bundesliga but he was mostly on the fringes at Bayern Munich as Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery held down slots in his favoured position. Altintop was versatile, hard-working and capable of the occasional long-range screamer, as evidenced by his Puskas Award-winning goal in 2010. He joined Real on a free after Bayern let his contract run down and the move never really worked out as he played 604 minutes in total across all competitions in his only season at the Bernabeu.
🗿 Honourable mentions
- 🇵🇱 Jerzy Dudek
- 🇳🇱 Royston Drenthe
- 🇬🇭 Michael Essien
- 🇹🇬 Emmanuel Adebayor
- 🇧🇦 Elvir Baljić
- 🇲🇽 Javier Hernández
- 🇺🇾 Pablo García
- 🇺🇾 Carlos Diogo
- 🇺🇾 Guillermo Varela
- 🇧🇷 Fabinho