The good, the bad & the ugly of the 21 Brazilians to play for Real since 2000

Quick Reads

Real Madrid have benefitted from some wonderful Brazilian players over the years – and Reinier Jesus will hope to join that prestigious list.

The teenager will be the latest Selecao star to wear the famous white jersey, following in the footsteps of Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo…and some who were not so good.

We’ve looked back at the good, the bad and the ugly of the 21 Brazilians to represent Madrid since the start of the century.

Roberto Carlos

What better way to start than with one of the most iconic Brazilian footballers of all time.

Carlos made Madrid’s left-back position his own for 11 years, winning four La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues and three Spanish Super Cups along the way.

Oh, and he could kick a football pretty hard as well.

Roberto Carlos scores free-kick for Brazil vs France

READ: A tribute to Roberto Carlos, a man who needed scientists to explain his goals

Savio Bortolini

Savio struggled to settle in at Madrid after signing from Flamengo in 1998 due to injuries, but the winger eventually established himself in the team.

During his five years at the Bernabeu, Madrid dominated Europe, winning an amazing three Champions League titles.

The signing of Zinedine Zidane in 2001 relegated Savio to a fringe role, however, and he left the club for Real Zaragoza a year later.

Savio has since became an agent and currently represents players like Filipe Luis and Andres Guardado.

Julio Cesar

No, not that one.

The centre-back, who was signed from Valladolid in 1999, struggled to hold down a first-team spot at Madrid and made just 33 appearances for the club.

Julio Cesar later had a strange spell at Sam Allardyce’s Bolton in 2004-05 as part of a nomadic career which saw him play in 12 different countries. Yes, you read that correctly.

After retiring, the 41-year-old set up a chain of gyms in Brazil, but he returned to football and is now manager of Spanish fourth-division side CD Cristo Atletico.

Flavio Conceicao

Conceicao starred in Deportivo La Coruna’s shock title win in 1999-00, and he became one of the first signings in the Florentino Perez era.

The midfielder had injury problems during his first two years at the Bernabeu but became Claude Makelele’s main midfield partner in 2002-03.

After spells with Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Panathinaikos, Conceicao retired at the relatively early age of 32 in 2006.

Ronaldo 

Ronaldo was a defining image of the Galactico era after signing from Inter Milan in 2002.

He went on to become one of the best forwards in Madrid’s decorated history, scoring 104 goals in 177 appearances and winning two La Liga titles.

El Fenomeno spent five years at the Bernabeu before injuries and weight issues finished his time at the club.

Cicinho

Madrid thought they had signed the next Cafu when they bought Cicinho in 2006, but any such predictions were wide of the mark.

The right-back made just 32 appearances for the club, and in 2016 he revealed he had been battling alcoholism during his career.

“I’m a guy who can’t sit and have one or two glasses,” Cicinho told ESPN Brasil. “I have to drink until I fall over. They said to me: ‘if you keep going with this life, you will die’.”

Robinho

Robinho was hailed as one of the world’s most promising footballers after joining Madrid in 2005, but he struggled with inconsistency at the Bernabeu.

The winger still won consecutive La Liga titles, but Madrid were after Cristiano Ronaldo so Robinho forced his way out of the club and joined Manchester City in 2008.

After failing to fulfil his potential, the Brazilian now finds himself playing for Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey.

Off the pitch, Robinho was sentenced to nine years in prison after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in 2013, although the sentence is on hold until the appeal process is completed.

Julio Baptista

Baptista impressed with Sevilla before making the move to Madrid in 2005, but the midfielder wasn’t able to make much of an impact in the capital.

After a difficult first season at Madrid, he spent 2006-07 on loan at Arsenal where he famously scored four goals at Anfield as the Gunners beat Liverpool 6-3.

The midfielder returned to the Bernabeu and played a key role as Madrid won La Liga in 2007-08 before signing for Roma at the end of that season.

Marcelo

Replacing Roberto Carlos looked to be an impossible task, but Marcelo has done his predecessor proud.

The 31-year-old loves to get forward just like Carlos, and he has established himself as one of the most-loved players in their history.

During his 13 years at Madrid, the left-back has won 21 major honours including four La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and two Copa del Rey titles. That’s not a bad collection.

Emerson

Emerson followed Fabio Capello to Madrid in 2006 after Juventus were relegated from Serie A, but the midfielder had a difficult time at the Bernabeu and was jeered by his own fans.

“Here they have no respect. This has never happened to me before,” Emerson told El Pais. “Maybe it’s because I have just arrived and the fans don’t know me.”

He left for AC Milan after just one season.

Kaka

Kaka became one of the best players in the world at AC Milan, and Madrid made him the second most expensive signing of all time in 2009.

However, that record lasted less than a month as Madrid brought Ronaldo to Spain and the Portuguese star quickly overshadowed Kaka who struggled to live up to his reputation and eventually lost his place to Mesut Ozil.

“After moving to Real I was completely destroyed,” Kaka told UOL. “I was completely lost. In Italy, everyone loved me, but everyone in Spain wanted me to leave. ”

“I could never prove to him (Mourinho) that I was in a good shape. I trained, fought and prayed a lot. But not having got the confidence of the manager, I realised I could not work with him.”

READ: A tribute to Kaká, the ‘rare piece of talent’ who belonged to Jesus

Fabinho

Fabinho may now be one of the best midfielders in the world, but the Brazilian’s first year in Europe was spent with Madrid’s reserves.

Despite some impressive performances for the Castilla squad, the 26-year-old made just one first-team appearance for Los Blancos.

After spending five years at Monaco, Fabinho joined Liverpool in 2018 and played a key role as Jurgen Klopp’s side won the Champions League last season.

Casemiro

Casemiro was brought to the club from Sao Paulo, and after being a reserve player under Rafael Benítez, he became first-choice under his successor Zinedine Zidane,

“Casemiro is an important player, he ensures the balance between defence and attack, he does a similar job to Deschamps and Makelele,” Zidane said in 2017.

“What he has been doing is not surprising, he has confidence and he is better every year.”

The 27-year-old has made 220 appearances for Los Blancos, and already boasts four Champions Leagues, one La Liga title and a Copa del Rey,

Willian Jose

Jose was signed for the B team on loan in January 2014 and made one appearance for the first team, but the striker wasn’t offered a permanent deal by Madrid.

After spells at Las Palmas and Real Zaragoza, he established himself as a regular for Real Sociedad and has recently been linked with a move to Tottenham.

Abner Felipe

Felipe joined the Castilla back in the summer of 2014 but suffered two serious knee injuries and nearly quit football altogether.

The defender never made an appearance for Madrid’s first team and returned to Brazil with Parana Soccer Technical Center in 2018.

No, we’ve never heard of him either.

Lucas Silva

The Brazilian arrived in Spain in 2015 as a highly-rated prospect, and he was hailed as “the future” of Madrid by then-coach Carlo Ancelotti.

However, the midfielder was sent out on loan and barely given a chance at Madrid, making just nine appearances for the club in four-and-a-half years.

In September 2019, his contract was terminated by mutual consent and the 26-year-old signed Gremio earlier this month.

Danilo

Madrid may have had two legendary Brazilian left-backs, but they’ve been less fortunate with Brazilian right-backs.

Danilo cost €31million from Porto in 2015, but he struggled to make an impact and wasn’t able to take Dani Carvajal’s place in the team.

Despite being a squad player throughout his career, Danilo has picked up an incredible haul of medals after spending two years at Manchester City before joining Juventus.

Vinicius Junior

Madrid have never got over missing out on a young Neymar and have been determined to unearth Brazil’s next superstar ever since.

Los Blancos agreed a deal to sign a then 16-year-old Vinicius from Flamengo for £38.7million in 2017 – despite him having played only 17 minutes of senior football at the time.

The winger has shown glimpses of his talent, but filling Cristiano Ronaldo’s shoes was always going to be difficult.

Eder Militao

Despite links to Manchester United and PSG, Militao joined Madrid for £42.7million after some impressive performances for Porto.

The Brazilian is behind Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in the pecking order at Madrid and has so far only made 10 appearances for his new club.

Rodrygo

Madrid continued their hunt for the next Neymar in 2018 by signing Rodrygo from Santos for £40million, although he spent another year in Brazil before making the move.

The teenager has had a great start to life at Madrid, scoring on his La Liga debut before getting a stunning hat-trick against Galatasaray in the Champions League.

Reinier Jesus

Reinier only made his senior debut for Flamengo six months ago, but the midfielder was part of the side that won the Brazilian league and the Copa Libertadores last season.

Madrid have now paid £26million to sign Reinier on a six-year deal, and the 18-year-old will join their Castilla team.


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