In the world of football, one of the greatest honours for any footballer is to play in the white jersey Real Madrid. It is one of the surest ways a play can add silverware and individual honours to his name.
But in some cases, joining the Los Blancos doesn’t always turn out to be the right decision. Many footballers have tried and field to write their names in the sand of times at the Bernabeu.
However, one thing is that as a flop you still get to lift at least a trophy at the club. But silverwares can’t always revive a career that is going downhill. Here are five examples of players whose career went downhill after moving to Real Madrid.
5. Michael Owen
Country: England | Appearances for Real Madrid: 45
Clubs played for since: Newcastle United, Manchester United, Stoke City
Like every other player on this list, Michael Owen played just one season for Real Madrid before moving on. Owen got an average of one goal in every three games for the Spanish team considering his 16 goals in one season at Madrid. It wouldn’t look bad if he was a random striker, but his image as one of Europe’s most lethal finishers means he might have done more.
He lost his magical touch and found himself in the jersey of Newcastle United. An avenue to make it big came about when Sir Alex Ferguson snapped him up for Manchester United in 2009. But, Owen was never the like the young, fearless striker who decided the fate of other teams for Liverpool and England.
4. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Country: Netherlands | Appearances for Real Madrid: 20
Clubs played for since: Schalke 04, Ajax
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was one of the hottest strikers in the world as at when he moved the Spanish capital. He joined from Ajax in the summer of 2008; Huntelaar was expected to continue delivering the goals in Madrid’s famous white jersey. However, the Dutchman couldn’t meet up to expectations and looked like he’s of depth at the Bernabeu. He was sold after one season in Spain, where he scores 8 goals in 20 appearances.
He tried reigniting his career at Schalke, but things didn’t look as expected in Germany and he made his move back home with Ajax.
3. Nuri Sahin
Country: Turkey | Appearances for Real Madrid: 10
Clubs played for since: Liverpool (loan) Dortmund, Werder Bremen.
Nuri Sahin earned himself a big move to Real Madrid in the summer of 2011 after a wonderful display for Jurgen Klopp’s title winning Dortmund. However, he wasn’t able to replicate the form under Jose Mourinho due to injuries and form issues.
In a bid to revitalise his career, he joined Liverpool on loan, but things didn’t go well with him in England. And like a prodigal son, he returned to Dortmund, initially on loan and then permanently. Sahin failed to hit the form that got him a move to Spain and became a squad rotation player. He moved to Werder Bremen this summer.
2. Asier Illaramendi
Country: Spain | Appearances for Real Madrid: 90 Clubs played for since: Real Sociedad
Real Madrid signed Asier Illaramendi from Real Sociedad for a reported fee of around £28.6m in the summer of 2013. This was due to Modric’s difficult first season in Spain, but since then, those two players have seen a turn in the career.
For Modric, he quickly settled and went on to install himself as one of the club’s key players. While Illara on the other hand found it difficult to adapt and lasted just two seasons before moving back Real Sociedad. He was once regarded as the next big thing in Spain, the midfielder is now a long way from playing Champions League football.
1. Ricardo Kaka
Country: Brazil | Appearances for Real Madrid: 120
Clubs played for since: AC Milan, Sao Paulo, Orlando City
Former FIFA World Footballer of the year and arguably one of the best players on the planet before making the switch to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009. Kaka never got the spark that saw him at the center stage after like when he tore Manchester United apart in the 2006/07 Champions League.
Maybe his arrival was overshadowed by that of Cristiano Ronaldo, who became a hit at the club. The Brazilian, like Illara re-joined his old club but, only lasted one season before stints in Brazil and America. He is now retired.