Ranking all of the 21 Brazilians to play for Real Madrid since 2000

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Real Madrid's Roberto Carlos celebrates scoring against Real Mallorca at Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, October 2005.

Real Madrid have benefitted from some wonderful Brazilian players over the years, with some of the best players of the modern era strutting their stuff at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

But, among the world-leading stars, there’s been some failures to remind people that not everybody from Brazil can be good at football.

Here’s how we’ve ranked the 21 Brazilians to have signed for the club since the start of the century. 

21. 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. Neither party missed the other.

20. 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’.”

Which is a real shame, because he looked like some player…

19. 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.

18. 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 29-year-old now turns out for Gremio in his native country.

17. 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 was previously linked with a move to Tottenham. Although, at this point, who hasn’t?

16. 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 43-year-old set up a chain of gyms in Brazil, but he returned to football and is was most recently the manager of Spanish fourth-division side CD Cristo Atletico.

15. Reinier Jesus

Reinier has hardly featured for Borussia Dortmund despite them spending a significant amount to bring the 20-year-old Brazilian to the Bundesliga on a two-year loan deal from Madrid in 2020.

Signed around the same time as Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo, Reinier has some way to go to match the exploits of his compatriots.

14. 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, he made just one first-team appearance for Los Blancos.

After spending five years at Monaco, Fabinho joined Liverpool in 2018 and has played a key role in Jurgen Klopp’s sensational side.

13. 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.

12. 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.

11. 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.”

Brazil international Kaka celebrates Milan's victory over Liverpool in the 2007 Champions League final with an iconic 'I belong to Jesus' t-shirt

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

10. 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 become an agent and has represented players like Filipe Luis and Andres Guardado.

9. 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 last played 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, a sentence that has been upheld on two separate occasions.

8. Julio Baptista

Baptista was impressive 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.

7. Rodrygo

Real Madrid paid Santos £40.5million for Rodrygo – and his two goals against Manchester City were worth the fee alone…

6. Eder Militao

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

He struggled to usurp Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane but has now become a first-team regular under Carlo Ancelotti, forming a solid defensive partnership with David Alaba.

5. Vinicius Junior

Joining from Flamengo for around £40.5million when he was just 18, Vinicius initially struggled under the pressure of the ‘next Neymar’ tag fostered upon young Brazilian footballers.

But, with 21 goals and 16 assists this season, the 21-year-old is already one of the best players in the world and will surely rise up this list in years to come.

4. 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 30-year-old has made 332 appearances for Los Blancos, and already boasts four Champions Leagues, three La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey,

3. 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.

Brazil international Ronaldo celebrates his iconic hat-trick for Real Madrid against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Manchester, 23 April 2003

READ: A forensic analysis of Ronaldo’s hat-trick vs Manchester United in 2003

2. 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.

1. Marcelo

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

The 33-year-old loves to get forward just like Carlos, and he has established himself as one of the most-loved players of his era.

During his 15 years at Madrid, the left-back has become the most decorated player in the club’s history and will depart in the summer of 2022 after a rapturous reception at the Bernabeu.


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