5 players that regret joining Real Madrid

Ask any aspiring footballer what their ultimate goal is and there is no doubt that the answer fired back at you will be ‘Real Madrid’. The pinnacle for any footballer is pulling on the Madrid white and representing the Spanish giants and for a lucky few, the dream becomes a reality.

However, many world class players have had their careers stall during their stint at Madrid. On that note, here is a look at five players who had the worst time of their lives while plying their trade for the Spanish giants.

#5 Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

While Huntelaar didn’t have too bad a debut season at Madrid going by the numbers – 8 goals in 20 games – he was destined for so much more when he arrived on Spanish shores for the first time in a €20 million deal from Ajax.

The prolific striker had hit the net a whopping 76 times in just 92 games for the Dutch champions but upon his arrival at Madrid, was dealt a severe blow when he was informed he wouldn’t be a part of their Champions League squad. With Madrid having signed Lassana Diarra from Portsmouth in the same January window, only one of the two could make the UCL squad according to UEFA rules and Diarra eventually made the cut.

Huntelaar was moved on in the summer transfer window to AC Milan, just six months after signing with Madrid. He followed it up with a stint at Schalke before moving back to his beloved Netherlands, signing for Ajax again.

#4 Arjen Robben

Real Madrid v Mallorca - La Liga

Over the course of an illustrious career, Arjen Robben has won almost everything there is to win in terms of club honours. While he is inarguably one of the most successful wingers of all time, his stint at Real Madrid was one he would like to forget.

Arriving from Chelsea in a deal worth £24 million, Robben was expected to hit the ground running, but that did not quite transpire. While he did have a pretty decent season or two, the arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka meant he was surplus to requirements and spent most of the time watching on from the sidelines.

Following the conclusion of the 2008/09 season, Robben was sold to Bayern Munich where he has remained till date, successfully resurrecting a stalling career. He managed just 13 goals in 65 appearances for the Spanish outfit while for Bayern, those numbers rise exponentially – 95 goals in 189 appearances.

”Leaving Madrid over Bayern was the best decision of my life,” Robben was quoted as saying in 2014.

#3 Nuri Sahin

Nuri Sahin

A lot was expected of Nuri Sahin when he moved to the Santiago Bernabeu for £9m from Borussia Dortmund having just won the Bundesliga Player of the Season award.

However, his Madrid tenure proved to be nothing short of disastrous. He made just four appearances for the Spanish giants in the La Liga, failing to score a single goal. That was in complete contrast to the six goals and eight assists he had managed in his final season in Germany.

Sahin was subsequently loaned out to Liverpool where he flattered to deceive before he was sent packing back to Dortmund, who signed him permanently in 2014. Despite his return to Germany, the Turkish international never hit his stride again, being mainly used as a bit-part player.

#2 Michael Owen

Real Madrid v Valencia

Michael Owen’s was a career of what-ifs. Despite possessing enough talent to be spoken of in the same breath as the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi and co, he never quite made it count, with injuries wrecking a major part of his career. The last English player to win a Ballon d’Or, Owen was worshipped at Anfield where he averaged a goal every other game, until his controversial move to Madrid in 2004.

Handed the No. 11 shirt, Owen struggled for form at the beginning of his Madrid stint, often being confined to the bench. With competition for places from the likes of Raul, Owen never quite found his feet in Spain but he still managed to score 13 goals from 36 games.

The Madrid thinktank were not impressed by what they had seen though and decided to move him on in the following summer. Owen was sent to Newcastle and then Manchester United before signing for Stoke where he ended his career.

#1 Kaka

Real Madrid v Tenerife - La Liga

“In 2009 I accepted the proposal from Real Madrid, but after that move, I was completely destroyed, because I couldn’t replicate what I’d done for Milan. I was totally lost. In Italy, everyone had loved me, but in Spain they all wanted me to just leave.”

Kaka joined Real Madrid at the peak of his powers. Having won the Ballon d’Or in 2007 and then finishing as a finalist the next two seasons, the Brazilian left Milan in what he considered the move of a lifetime. He had won everything possible at the Italian club, including the Champions League in 2006/07 and felt it was the right time for a change.

He signed for Madrid in a €67 million deal, little knowing that that would be the beginning of the end for him. With the arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil, Kaka was forced to the sidelines, warming the benches for most parts of the subsequent seasons. Injuries too played their part in wrecking one of the most promising careers. He wore the Madrid white a total of 85 times in league competition, scoring 23 goals before heading back to his beloved Milan.

He never hit the same heights again though and moved on to Orlando City before announcing his retirement late 2017.