Best transfer windows: Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka herald Galacticos return at Real Madrid

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Real Madrid’s emphatic start to this summer’s transfer market has stolen football’s attention.

An extensive rebuild promised to returning head coach Zinedine Zidane has already seen – including deals previously agreed – more than €300 million spent on the likes of Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard, promising Eintracht Frankfurt forward Luka Jovic and emerging Lyon left-back Ferland Mendy.

There is still the promise of even more to come, with links to €150m-rated Manchester United centre midfielder Paul Pogba refusing to go away.

This splurge is sure to transform Los Blancos’ expectations after they claimed just the Club World Cup in 2018/19. But how does it compare to previous ones?

We’ve looked back through the past five decades to select the most-consequential pre-season spending sprees. Here is the pick of the 2000s:


Key arrivals: Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema, Raul Albiol, Alvaro Arbeloa

Honourable mentions: Roma (2000 – Gabriel Batistuta, Walter Samuel, Jonathan Zebina, Emerson), Barcelona (2003 – Ronaldinho, Giovanni van Bronckhorst (loan), Rafael Marquez), Chelsea (2004 – Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho, Arjen Robben, Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira), Inter Milan (2009 – Diego Milito, Samuel Eto’o, Wesley Sneijder, Thiago Motta, Lucio)

Galacticos fever returned to Santiago Bernabeu a decade ago.

Construction magnate Florentino Perez caused a sensation around the Millennium with his policy of snaring the sport’s biggest names, beginning with the contentious capture of Luis Figo from El Clasico rivals Barcelona. The ultimate failure of the approach’s original iteration ensured his resignation in 2006, yet dire times on the pitch, envy about their unstoppable Catalan rivals and controversial election laws saw him run unopposed for the top job three years later.

Perez was announced on June 1 and within two weeks the previous two Ballon d’Or winners had been hired, with the world-record transfer mark being shattered both times. In total, more than €250m was lavished on Los Blancos – a figure no club had touched before.

Paradigms shifted as AC Milan’s majestic Brazil playmaker Kaka was first through the door for just under €67m, Manchester United’s Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo swiftly following at €94m.

Injuries and clashes of style with Jose Mourinho would make Kaka’s Madrid spell unfulfilled. In contrast, Ronaldo would depart for Juventus in July 2018 after netting a club record 450 times in 438 matches and lifting 15 major trophies – he was a bargain.

The sensational recruitment drive did not stop there. Not even close.

Experienced Spain metronome Xabi Alonso was landed for €40m and Liverpool received €4.5m more for versatile team-mate Alvaro Arbeloa.

The former remained in situ during 2013/14 when the fabled ‘La Decima’ Champions League crown was secured.

Elsewhere, Karim Benzema is still expected to lead the line for Los Blancos in 2019/20. Some return on the €35m wired to Lyon 10 years ago.

This heady mixture would not turn into gold immediately. The ruthless firing of Manuel Pellegrini and hiring of Mourinho the following summer would start the path back to the unfettered glory of Zinedine Zidane’s first reign.

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