Where are they now? Find out here what happened to Real Madrid’s blockbuster signings of 2009 that set in motion a new era of dominance.
Florentino Perez has a notorious reputation for his pursuit of the world’s best footballers for Real Madrid. His aggressive transfer policies have yielded some phenomenal talents, at costly prices.
Upon becoming president for the first time in 2000, Perez began a revolutionary ‘Galactico’ project. Luis Figo (€60m), Zinedine Zidane (€72m), Ronaldo Nazario (€45m), and David Beckham (€25m) all arrived in the following three years. It was a tremendous success from a marketing perspective, but not on the pitch itself.
Upon winning a second term as president in 2009, Perez signed a new generation of ‘Galacticos’ to rival the Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona. It cost the club €264.5 million to sign the following eight players below.
Alvaro Arbeloa – €4 million
After spells with Deportivo La Coruña and Liverpool, Arbeloa returned to his boyhood club in 2009. He quickly established himself in the Real Madrid line-up, making a further 234 appearances.
The World Cup winner helped Los Blancos end Barcelona’s dominance by securing La Liga glory in 2011/12. Two Champions League and Copa del Rey titles also came his way in Madrid.
Following a series of injury setbacks, Arbeloa eventually lost his spot in the Real Madrid team. He left for West Ham in 2016, but lasted just one season before hanging up his boots.
Alvaro Negredo – €5 million
The striker never made the grade in Madrid.
Negredo, who formerly played for the Castilla team, returned to the Bernabeu in July 2009 after Real Madrid activated a buy-back option in his Almeria contract. He only played during pre-season.
Thanks to the star-studded arrivals, Negredo knew there was no chance of regular football at Real Madrid. Therefore, he left for Sevilla just one month later in a €15m transfer.
The 36-year-old currently plays for Cadiz in Spain following spells with Manchester City, Valencia, Middlesbrough, Besiktas, and Al Nasr.
Ezequiel Garay – €10 million
The former Argentina international agreed to a €10 million transfer in 2008. He remained at Racing Santander for another season on loan before ‘officially’ joining Real Madrid a year later.
But Garay’s time in the Spanish capital was one to forget, with the center-back making just 31 appearances.
Knee problems in his second season, along with Jose Mourinho’s appointment as manager, led to his downfall. Garay struggled for game-time, leading him to join Benfica for €5.50 million in 2011.
After a strong spell in Russia with Zenit St-Petersburg, Garay returned to La Liga in 2016 by completing a €24 million transfer to Valencia and retired in July 2021.
Raul Albiol – €15 million
Albiol enjoyed a strong first season at Real Madrid, making 43 appearances in all competitions. But his prospects soon dried up from the moment Ricardo Carvalho arrived from Chelsea a year after his arrival.
The Spaniard lost favor in the Madrid defense and mostly featured in cup competitions before eventually joining Napoli in 2013.
Albiol returned to La Liga six years later upon completing a €5 million move to Villarreal. The 36-year-old has since played prominently for the Yellow Submarine and helped the club win the Europa League in 2021.
Xabi Alonso – €34.5 million
Following a superb five-year spell at Liverpool, Alonso returned to Spain by signing for Real Madrid in 2009.
The Spanish midfielder quickly established himself at the Bernabeu, featuring prominently under Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese coach valued his versatility and technical ability.
Alonso later made a €9 million transfer to Bayern Munich in 2014. He enjoyed a trophy-laden three years in the Bavarian capital, winning three Bundesliga titles before heading into retirement.
Now in 2022, Alonso has recently boyhood club Real Sociedad after a spell coaching the B team.
Karim Benzema – €35 million
Benzema made his mark in the football world following a superb 2007/08 Champions League campaign, where he bagged four goals in seven games. A €35 million transfer to Real Madrid from Lyon came the following year.
He’s now a five-time Champions League winner and one of the most prolific goalscorers in the competition’s history.
After years of playing a supporting role to Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema has stepped into the light as Los Blancos’ goalscoring hero since the Portuguese’s departure in 2018.
The Frenchman is the sole survivor of Perez’s second generation of ‘Galacticos’ 13 years later.
Kaka – €67 million
The 2007 Ballon d’Or winner left AC Milan for Real Madrid in 2009 for €67 million, making him the world’s second most expensive player at the time. His four-year spell, however, was marred by injuries.
Kaka also had trouble winning over Jose Mourinho, who he holds partly accountable for his demise in Spain. The Portuguese coach often favored Mesut Ozil instead of him.
A return to AC Milan in 2013 couldn’t revive his fading career prospects. Therefore, Kaka joined Orlando City in the MLS a year later and retired in 2017.
Cristiano Ronaldo – €94 million
After winning everything for Manchester United, Ronaldo took his talents over to Real Madrid in 2009 for a then-world record fee.
The Portuguese phenomenon managed an insane 450 goals and 131 assists in 438 appearances. He also bagged an incredible 44 hat-tricks during his time in Madrid.
Ronaldo also inspired Los Blancos to 15 trophies that included four Champions League titles, three Club World Cups, and two La Liga crowns.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner ended his glory-laden spell in Spain in 2018 for a fresh challenge at Juventus. He returned to Manchester United last summer.