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Real Madrid’s Top 10 Most Expensive Sales and How They Fared After Leaving
- Cristiano Ronaldo leads the list of superstars that have been sold for an expensive price by Real Madrid
- The Portugal forward joined Real Madrid for a then world record of £80 million from Manchester United
- Mesut Ozil, Rafael Varane, and Angel Di Maria are among the other big names Real Madrid has sold off
Real Madrid are known for splashing the cash to sign the best players around the world, but the La Liga club are rarely credited for their business of making money off sales and transfers.
Over the years, due to their sheer pedigree in Europe, some of the world’s best have moved to Spain to play for Los Blancos.
Real Madrid has built a reputation for selling players and regenerating their squad with as little disruption as possible, as evidenced by the club succeeding even after sales of top stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil.
The 14-time Champions League winners have had some stars come to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and later shipped out for good money after reasonably good offers came their way.
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Sports Brief, with the help of Planet Football, looks at Real Madrid's top ten most expensive sales and how these players fared after leaving Los Blancos.
10. Gonzalo Higuain
Higuain had impressed and looked every bit a striker with the potential to be one of the best in Europe after six years in the Spanish capital, but he hadn't entirely forced his way into a regular starting berth for Real Madrid.
The club sold him to Napoli for £34.5 million in 2013, with the Italians outbidding Arsenal for his services.
After that, Higuain spent most of his career in Italy, scoring for fun in Naples before earning a big-money move to Turin with Juventus, where he never quite clicked.
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When Manchester City paid a British record fee of £32.5 million to sign Robinho in September 2008, the same day an Abu Dhabi United Group takeover was completed, Real Madrid made a profit on the Brazilian they had signed three years earlier.
He only stayed in Manchester for two years before embarking on a journeyman career that took him across several continents.
8. Raphael Varane
Real Madrid willingly sold their multiple-time Champions League-winning central defender, Raphael Varane to Manchester United in 2021 for only £41 mil, including add-ons, despite initial reports of a fee closer to £34 mil.
Injuries had never been kind to the Frenchman but Los Blancos looked short defensively. That - and Varane on his day is truly exceptional.
That Old Trafford presentation upon signing made him feel priceless. Despite a rocky first season, he's since established himself as an integral piece of Erik ten Hag's puzzle alongside Lisandro Martinez.
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7. Achraf Hakimi
After coming through Real Madrid’s academy ranks, Achraf Hakimi was loaned to Borussia Dortmund for two years before being sold to Inter Milan for an initial £36.3 mil when he returned in 2021.
Hakimi only stayed in Italy for a year before joining Paris Saint-Germain in a deal worth up to £60 mil.
6. Mateo Kovacic
Real Madrid signed Kovacic from Inter Milan in 2015 after Financial Fair Play regulations forced the Italian club's hand.
While the Croatian served as a replacement, Kovacic could never break into the Real Madrid midfield trio that already included prime Casemiro, Toni Kroos, and Luka Modric.
A season-long loan to Chelsea in 2018 became a permanent deal the following summer, with the Blues paying an initial fee of £40.25 mil to secure the midfielder.
5. Mesut Ozil
Real Madrid's decision to sell Mesut Ozil in 2013 created a memorable moment for Arsenal fans.
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After only three years in Madrid, where the German appeared to be blossoming into potentially the most dangerous creator in European football, the Gunners swooped in on Deadline Day to sign Ozil for a fee of £42.5 mil.
It all began so well for him at the Emirates Stadium and he quickly became a fan favourite. In 2015-16, he finished not only as the Premier League's top goal creator, but also as Arsenal's Player of the Season.
Despite amassing an unrivaled highlight reel and rising to a senior position at the club, Ozil left in disgrace in 2021 and signed for boyhood club, Fenerbahce, where he never recovered his best form. He retired earlier this yearearlier in 2023.
4. Angel Di Maria
Real Madrid wantaway, Angel Di Maria was offered exorbitant sums of money by Manchester United, which the club thought would be good business.
The Argentine would later sign for the Red Devils for a British record of £59.7 mil in 2014, taking over the historic number seven jersey.
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The move quickly turned from a dream to a nightmare. Di Maria, who was already seemed disinterested, failed to find sustained form, looked like a square peg in a round hole, and was desperate to leave Manchester after his house was broken into.
He left the following summer, signing for PSG - the club he'd initially wanted to join - on a cheap deal, the club he'd initially wanted to join.
3. Alvaro Morata
Real Madrid did exceptionally well in recouping funding for Alvaro Morata. After selling him to Juventus in 2014, Los Blancos repurchased him in 2016 using their £24 mil buyback clause, only to sell the Spanish forward again the following season to Chelsea for a club-record £70 mil.
During his three-year stay in London, Morata flopped and was loaned to Atletico Madrid, who then bought him, loaned him back to Juventus, and now has him back in the squad.
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Manchester United paid £70 mil to sign Casemiro, who had just won his fifth Champions League a few months before, raising questions about his motivations for leaving Real Madrid.
Since then, it has become abundantly clear they did not purchase a player looking for his last big payday, but instead a rather crazy Brazilian who loves football far too much for his own good.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid nine years later as a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, a five-time Champions League winner, and the club's all-time top scorer after they had paid a then-world record £80 mil to sign him from Man United in 2009.
Despite being ten years older than when he first joined, Real made a profit on their world record fee when they sold the 33-year-old to a Juve side desperate to win the Champions League at any cost.
The total cost was £99.2 million. At the very least, it paid off when the Old Lady finally cemented years of domestic dominance with European glory again.
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Lessons from Madrid vs Chelsea
Earlier, Sports Brief reported on Real Madrid recording a win over Chelsea at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, edging out the Blues 2-0 in the first leg of their UCL quarter-final tie.
A goal each from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio on either side of half-time gave Carlo Ancelotti's men a slight edge ahead of the Champions League return leg at Stamford Bridge.
It was almost too easy for the defending champions, who did not have to switch gears to outperform a toothless Blues side, who have failed to score a goal in their last four games.