The Real deal – 6 players who swapped the Premier League for Madrid

Eden Hazard could not resist the opportunity of playing for Real Madrid, becoming the latest Premier League star to become a Galactico.

The Belgium international had seven seasons at Chelsea, winning six major trophies, including the Europa League and the Premier League twice, the FA Cup and the League Cup, before deciding on a move to Madrid.

Here, Press Association Sport’s Alec Whitaker takes a look at six former Premier League players who have made the switch.

— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) June 7, 2019

Steve McManaman (1999-2003)

Man U V R Madrid McManaman
Steve McManaman left Liverpool for the Spanish capital in 1999 (Phil Noble/PA)

The Bootle-born player was also the first English footballer to move from the Premier League when he traded Liverpool for Madrid.  McManaman scored eight goals in a four-year spell which yielded two LaLiga titles and the Champions League, scoring a spectacular volley in the 3-0 final win over Valencia in 2000.

David Beckham (2003-2007)

Soccer- Spanish Primera Liga season- Real Madrid v Real Betis – Madrid
David Beckham turned his back on Manchester United to join Real Madrid in 2003 (Nick Potts/PA)

Beckham left Manchester United for £25million in the summer of 2003, signing a four-year contract to become Madrid’s latest Galactico. The midfielder won 19 major trophies in his 20-year playing career, but his four-year spell at Real was not especially successful. Beckham won the Spanish Super Cup in his first season, scoring in a 3-0 win over Mallorca, and also secured a league title in his final season, before he departed for LA Galaxy.

Michael Owen (2004-2005)

Michael Owen arrives in Madrid for his first training session with Real, in August 2004 (Press Association Images)

The prolific England international was signed at the peak of his career for £8million. However, as with Beckham, Owen’s time as a Galactico was not without frustration. The striker made the majority of his appearances from the bench in his solitary season at Madrid, where he managed to score a respectable 13 goals from his 36 appearances.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy (2006-2010)

Soccer – Real Madrid Training Session – Carton House
Real Madrid’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy was a hit with Real fans (PA Archive)

Holland international striker Van Nistelrooy joined former Manchester United team-mate Beckham when he moved to the Bernabeu for £14million. Unfortunately for Van Nistelrooy, his four-year spell was blighted by several injuries, including a partially torn meniscus in his right knee and a thigh issue. He did however manage to win the Pichichi award for scoring the most goals in his first season at the club, as well as going on to win two domestic titles.

Cristiano Ronaldo (2009-2018)

Cristiano Ronaldo won four Champions League trophies while at Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo won four Champions League trophies while at Real Madrid (Nick Potts/PA)

Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer and five-time Ballon d’Or winner was another to trade Manchester for Madrid, when he left United for Real for a world record £80million in 2009. In total he won 15 major trophies including two league titles, two Copa del Reys, four Champions Leagues, two Super Cups and three Club World Cups. After 438 games and more than 450 goals, he joined Juventus in 2018.

Gareth Bale (2013-)

2018 Sport Christmas Package
Gareth Bale was a Champions League winner with Real in 2018 (Nick Potts/PA)

The Wales talisman became the most expensive player in history when he signed from Tottenham for a reported £85.3million in September 2013. Bale played an integral role in his first season with the Spanish giants, scoring decisive goals in the final of both the 2014 Champions League and Copa del Rey. Although recent times at the Bernabeu have not been so successful, with injuries disrupting his momentum, Bale is still averaging around a goal every two games.