Manchester United are just days away from officially announcing the transfer of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid. The Red Devils’ move for Varane has been one of the most surprising transfers of the season.
Not many players have decided to move from the spotlight of Spain to join the Premier League. More so than not, it has been Madrid who have poached some of the Premier League’s elite talent. But over the years, several names have made the move.
The Best Five Players to Join the Premier League from Real Madrid
Moving from Real Madrid to Bolton Wanderers is not one of the most glamorous of moves. It’s a move that more or less indicates the start of a player’s career end. Ivan Campo took that less fashioned route in 2003. Crippled by pressure from the incoming Galacticos, Campo joined Bolton on loan in 2002.
After initially moving to gain regular playing time, the Spaniard surprisingly signed a three-year deal with the club following his impressive loan spell.
In six seasons at Bolton, Campo established himself as a cult hero amongst the fans. The Spaniard made 192 appearances and scored 14 goals for Wanderers. Campo’s time at the then-named Reebok Stadium coincided with Bolton’s best run in the Premier League. With Sam Allardyce at the helm, the Trotters mesmerized the English league, finishing as runners-up in the Football League Cup and even managing to qualify for Europe.
Looking back at the deal, Chelsea’s decision to sign Mateo Kovacic was one of their best moves in recent history. Back when Chelsea signed Kovacic, the Croatian was struggling to get into Real Madrid’s line-up. The midfielder was still unproven but the Blues took a chance and signed the Croatian.
The rest of the story has been nothing short of impressive. Kovacic revitalized Chelsea’s midfield, becoming a fan-favourite and winning the Player of the Year award for the 2019/20 season. His tireless, hard-working mentality quickly struck a chord with the Blues faithful.
Kovacic was an instrumental figure in both of Chelsea’s European triumphs. In three seasons, the Croatian has made 140 appearances for the Blues and scored two goals.
Rafael van der Vaart
It was just two seasons, but Rafael van der Vaart made a huge impression with the Tottenham Hotspur fans. Dubbed a Real Madrid flop, the Dutchman arrived at White Hart Lane in 2010 on a mission to prove that he was anything but. Van der Vaart enjoyed a brilliant start, winning Premier League Player of the Month just two months after his move.
After an injury-hit December, the Dutchman scored a brace against Aston Villa to keep Spurs’ Champions League hopes alive. A double against Arsenal cemented himself as a fan-favourite at White Hart Lane. Despite his best efforts, Spurs fell short of the Champions League in his debut season. Van der Vaart ended his first season with 15 goals and ten assists, with his goal tally being almost a quarter of Spurs’ total for the season.
Van der Vaart continued his goalscoring touch the following season. The attacking midfielder, along with Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe formed the best Spurs team during the pre-Pochettino era. He scored 13 goals and made eight assists in his second season as Spurs agonizingly failed to qualify for the Champions League following Chelsea’s European triumph.
Given the manner of his exit and the final years with Arsenal, it’s easy to forget how good Mesut Ozil was for the Gunners. The German arrived as a surprise marquee signing from Real Madrid in 2013 but immediately showcased his class as he helped Arsenal end their eight-year trophy drought in his debut season.
The German was second to none in his first four seasons at the Emirates. During that time, he was the best play-maker in the league and helped Arsenal produce scintillating football. He made an astounding 51 assists in his first five seasons in the Premier League, including 19 in the 2015/16 season alone.
But the departure of Arsene Wenger started Ozil’s fall from grace. The German, who always got criticized for his lack of defensive effort, bore the brunt of Arsenal’s poor performances. He was often the scapegoat in many of Arsenal’s defeats. Gradually, the German started getting his minutes reduced, citing him as a defensive liability. B
The last two years have been more than harsh for the Ozil. He was frozen from the first team before finally moving to Fenerbahce last season. Ozil made 254 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 44 times and making 77 assists. Despite his unceremonious departure, he still remains one of the best playmakers in the history of the Premier League.
You know a player is really good if there is a position named after him. Claude Makelele is undoubtedly the greatest player to join the Premier League from Real Madrid. There has seldom been a player whose arrival has changed the history of a team. Claude Makelele’s signing was one of them.
Famously quoted as the engine of the Real Madrid team by Zinedine Zidane, Makelele was one of the club’s Galacticos pursuit. However, Madrid’s loss was Chelsea’s gain. Despite a trophyless debut season, Makelele proved to be one of the smartest buys in Chelsea history.
Makelele was an integral part of Chelsea’s back-to-back title-winning squads. His defensive prowess and work rate allowed more freedom for attacking players like Frank Lampard. His contribution to the Blues was very integral that he earned a place in the 2005 FIFPro XI. In five seasons at Stamford Bridge, Makelele made 217 appearances and scored two goals.