The 2010s at Real Madrid have brought the kind of spending we’ll always associate with any Florentino Perez presidency, but not every signing has hit the heights some expected of them.
There have been some huge positives for Los Blancos in the 2010s, not least securing La Decima and becoming the first team to retain the Champions League title, even if things haven’t gone as swimmingly domestically.
We’ve taken a look back at their most expensive signing for every season since 2010-11 to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Di Maria cost €25million after tearing things up at home and on the continent with Benfica, arriving in the same summer as Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.
The Argentine arrived off the back of an impressive 2010 World Cup and went out with a bang after playing his part in the 2014 Champions League final success.
Madrid made a tidy profit, too, more than doubling their money when they sold Di Maria to Manchester United.
The summer of 2011 saw Real Madrid make one of their most important signings of the decade, bringing in Raphael Varane from Lens, but their most expensive arrival didn’t perform quite as well.
Another arrival from Benfica, Coentrao cost a little more than Di Maria but didn’t make a fraction of the impact, playing just 106 games despite being on the books of the club for seven years.
The left-back returned to first club Rio Ave last summer on a one-year deal, and is now without a club at the age of just 31.
Modric’s first few months at Real Madrid weren’t the best, but from early 2013 onwards that would change.
After a momentous introduction against Manchester United in the Champions League, the Croatian went from strength to strength and ultimately won the Ballon d’Or in 2018.
Strangely, he was one of just two senior arrivals in the 2012-13 season, alongside goalkeeper Diego Lopez. Lopez did not go on to win the Ballon d’Or.
Bale became the most expensive player in world football when he moved to Real Madrid in the summer of 2013, and while he no longer holds that honour, he is still on the books of the club.
The raw numbers paint the picture of a successful spell, but numbers don’t always tell the entire picture.
Multiple Champions League titles, More than 100 goals. Resentment from fans. In that order.
Like those who joined in 2010, James arrived off the back of a fantastic World Cup display. However, the jury remains out on his contribution.
The Colombian won two Champions League titles with Los Blancos, in 2016 and 2017, but spent the last two years on loan at Bayern Munich after never really looking like a €75million player.
It’s certainly true that Toni Kroos, who arrived for a fraction of the price in the same window, had a bigger impact. There’s even a case for saying the same of fellow 2014 signing Keylor Navas.
2015-16 was not a vintage season for Real Madrid signings, with none of the three most expensive summer signings remaining at the club beyond the 2018-19 season.
Kovacic lasted the longest, spending the most recent full campaign on loan at Chelsea and making his move permanent to earn the Spansh club a small profit.
The Croatian stagnated a little after joining from Inter for €29million, starting just 37 La Liga games in three seasons and finding the net just once in the competition.
Morata wasn’t just the most expensive 2016-17 signing – he was the only one to command a fee of any sort.
The Spaniard returned from Juventus for €30million and had a decent first season back with 20 goals in all competitions.
Then Chelsea came calling, Real Madrid cashed in and… well, you know the rest.
Yeah, we’re surprised by this one too. Theo cost €24million from neighbours Atletico Madrid and played a grand total of 23 first-team games before being moved on.
That’s right, the French defender is already talking about his Real Madrid spell in the past tense, having cost AC Milan less than that in the summer of 2019, yet he was the most expensive recruit for Zinedine Zidane’s team in a season which ended with them lifting the Champions League trophy.
Who else joined in 2017-18, we hear you ask? Just Dani Ceballos, as it turns out. Zidane was a miracle worker.
— Real Madrid C.F.⚽ (@realmadrid) July 10, 2017
With the Cristiano Ronaldo money burning a hole in their pocket, Real Madrid splashed out well in excess of €100million in the summer of 2018.
Teenage forward Vinicius was the most expensive, with Thibaut Courtois and Alvaro Odriozola not too far behind, and the Brazilian has needed to be patient.
After nine league starts in his first season (and two goals), the €46million forward is already halfway towards last season’s tally for both goals and minutes.
It’s still early, but Eden Hazard hasn’t looked like a €100million player just yet.
The Belgian was courted for a number of years before finally clinching a move from Chelsea in 2019, a summer in which Real Madrid spent north of €300millon.
At the time of writing, he’s scored more goals for Belgium this season than he has for his club, and he’s only scored two for Belgium.