The last decade was quite a successful one for Real Madrid, even though they weren’t able to establish complete dominance in La Liga. Yet, the Los Blancos tasted plenty of glory in Europe over the last ten years, as the wait for La Decima finally came to an end and was followed by a hat-trick of Champions League trophies between 2015 and 2018.
As has been the case over the years, Real Madrid splurged heavily on players over the last decade, with president Florentino Perez searching for Galacticos year after year. During this period, Real Madrid recruited a total of 45 players on permanent transfers.
Not all of these players that arrived at the Bernabeu made lasting impacts, with quite a few proving to be disappointments and were moved on from the club. Some, though, played integral roles in the club’s success over the last ten years and continue to do so even now. And here, we take a look at the top five such signings that Real Madrid made in the last decade;
Signed as a youngster with potential back in 2011 from French club Lens for a modest fee of £9 million, not many would have envisaged how critical a player Raphael Varane would go on to become for Real Madrid.
Just 26 years old, Varane has established himself as one of the finest defenders in the game. The Frenchman has been integral to every title Real Madrid have won over the last decade. He also went on to win the World Cup with France in 2018.
Varane, so far, has made over 300 appearances for Real Madrid and is primed to take over as the club captain when Sergio Ramos decides to bring an end to his career with the club. Given his age, the Frenchman should only continue to get better. For just £9 million, he has proved to be an excellent bargain for Real Madrid.
Arriving from Tottenham Hotspur in 2012 for a transfer fee of £32 million, it did not take long for Modric to ingratiate himself with the Real Madrid faithful. The Croatian international added that bit of quality and class to the Merengues’ midfield that had been lacking for quite a while, helping them make the step up to the next level.
So, it did not come as a surprise that Real Madrid went on to win the Champions League in his second season with the club. Modric, then went on to play instrumental roles in Los Blancos’ UCL hat-trick under Zinedine Zidane.
The Croatian international didn’t always get a lot of limelight, owing to the presence of stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the squad. But Modric was the heartbeat of the Real Madrid side that made history in European football last decade. The midfielder, who is entering the twilight of his career, has made 333 appearances for Madrid and won the 2018 Ballon d’Or.
Another player to arrive at the Bernabeu from Tottenham, Gareth Bale followed in Modric’s footsteps only a year later. And while he has had to endure a rocky relationship with the club’s supporters, one cannot deny the role he has played in the success Real Madrid enjoyed since his arrival.
Bale is just one short of making 250 appearances for the Spanish capital club. During his time with the club, the Welsh wing wizard has netted 105 goals, that include some very crucial strikes in the club’s history – an extra-time goal in the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid in his debut season, a brace in their European Cup triumph against Liverpool in 2017-18, among others.
Bale has also assisted 67 goals at Madrid including the only goal in their 1-0 win over Atletico in the Champions League final in 2015-16. His strained relationship with the manager and club legend Zinedine Zidane coupled with his injury record has somewhat tarnished his legacy. But there is no taking away the fact that Bale has been critical to Real Madrid’s trophy-laden spell over the last few years.
Signed initially on a loan deal from Brazilian outfit Sao Paulo in January 2013, Casemiro initially linked up with Real Madrid’s Castilla side. But Jose Mourinho decided to give him a break in the first-team and he was then signed permanently for just a little over £5 million.
The Brazilian spent a season away on loan with FC Porto during the 2014-15 campaign. Upon returning, Casemiro walked right into the starting lineup at Real Madrid and went on to play an important part in the club’s hat-trick of European cup triumphs. His presence added that element of stability and solidity that Real had been lacking.
"For the balance of the team, he is without a doubt [Real Madrid's] most important player. He has changed the face of Madrid," Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone had said of Casemiro ahead Real’s 2015-16 UCL triumph.
Not always in the spotlight, Casemiro does the dirty work for Real Madrid in the middle and performs it so very well, allowing the others around him to flourish. The 28-year-old has made 229 appearances for Los Blancos and as he enters the peak years of his career, should add many more to that tally.
Another central midfielder in the list, Toni Kroos had established himself as one of the finest midfielders in Europe prior to his arrival at Real Madrid in 2014. And the German international has only gone on to elevate that status much further during his stint at the Bernabeu.
Along with Modric and Casemiro, Kroos forged the perfect midfield partnership, helping Real Madrid control games from the centre. Over the years, the German pass master has helped unlock many a defence with his vision and distribution, while also scoring some important goals for the Merengues along the way.
Kroos has made over 260 appearances for Real Madrid, scoring 18 goals and chalking up 68 assists. At 30 years of age, the former Bayern Munich midfielder has plenty left to offer for the Spanish heavyweights and could very well go on to add to his three Champions League winners’ medal with the club.