Galacticos to Go – These Real Madrid Players Moved on to The Premier League

Real Madrid have developed a deserved reputation for chewing some footballers who play for the club up and spitting them out. Transfer policy at the Bernabeu can be more about shirt sales and commercial revenue than whether the player is a profile they need in the team.

How the players fit together is usually the coach’s problem, hence the often high turnover in the dugout. Even the mighty Zinedine Zidane has had two spells as Bernabeu boss notching a Champions League hat-trick and two La Liga titles to date.

The word Galactico was more or less made for him and the generation of footballers that played with Zizou. Think David Beckham and Luis Figo for starters. In more recent times, these Real players have been moved on and now play in the Premier League.

James Rodriguez

Colombia’s attacking midfielder James Rodriguez lit up the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and was such hot property that he became a Galactico signing by Madrid that same summer. Some six years later he has joined Everton with former Bernabeu boss Carlo Ancelotti reportedly influential in securing his signature and persuading him to come to Goodison Park.

James spent two years on loan with Bayern Munich between 2017 and 2019 where he added back-to-back Bundesliga titles to his resume. Earlier in this career, he used Portuguese football to make a European breakthrough and moved from Porto to Monaco in 2013.

Rodriguez is part of a new-look midfield at Everton, with the Toffees board backing Ancelotti heavily in the transfer market. They will expect a return on that investment in the squad, but the latest football betting with bet365 suggests a Premier League top six finish could be on the cards at odds of 11/4.

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Mateo Kovacic

Croatia playmaker Luka Modric casts something of a long shadow over the Bernabeu in the Real midfield, so compatriot Mateo Kovacic struggled to make much of an impact. Signed on the back of an excellent season at Inter Milan in the summer of 2015, he managed just three goals in as many seasons for Los Blancos.

Chelsea saw that they could use a versatile midfielder like the Austrian-born Kovacic and initially took him to Stamford Bridge on loan from Spain. Now coached by Blues legend Frank Lampard, he faces some stiff competition for places but that is nothing new to a Madrid alumnus.

Kovacic was a regular under Maurizio Sarri in West London and when Lampard returned to the club after beginning his coaching career at Derby County.  The big money signing of Kai Havertz may knock him down the Chelsea pecking order, but he still has obvious qualities and could help them mount a push to break into the top two.

Dani Ceballos

Speaking of central midfielders, Spain’s Dani Ceballos is currently on a second consecutive season on loan with Arsenal from the Bernabeu and helped them to win the 2019-20 FA Cup. Compatriot coach Mikel Arteta once ran the game for the Gunners in the engine room and now expects the same from him.

Ceballos is still owned by Real but played just 35 La Liga matches in two full seasons there after coming through the ranks of Seville side Betis. He made more appearances for Arsenal across all competitions in his first season than he got in league action at the Bernabeu.

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As Ceballos has always been held in high regard – he won the Player of the Tournament when Spain came second in the European Under-21 Championship – he could still have a future in Madrid. It is in North London and the Premier League where his immediate future lies.

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Cory Weinberg

About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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