Revisiting Real Madrid’s six first-team signings in 2011, 10 years on

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Raphael Varane in action for Real Madrid against Cadiz, Ramon de Carranza Stadium, April 2021

Real Madrid’s side in 2011 was arguably one of their best ever.

Stealing La Liga from Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in 2011-12, winning with 100 points and playing some of the best football in the world, Jose Mourinho had built a superb side.

The squad was filled with big-name superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil, and had quality depth all over the pitch.

The signings in the winter and summer windows of 2011 helped shape this side which would end Barcelona’s dominant spell at the top, and we’ve taken a look at them ten years later.

Emmanuel Adebayor

After being frozen out at Manchester City by Roberto Mancini the previous summer, Real Madrid caused surprise by signing the Togolese striker on a loan deal in January 2011 to replace the injured Gonzalo Higuain.

Adebayor did fairly well in his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, scoring eight times in 22 appearances and winning the Copa Del Rey, but the club chose not to use their option to buy and he returned to England at the end of his loan.

He would go on to play for Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace before spells in Turkey.

His peak performance levels at Arsenal were rarely seen elsewhere…

Fabio Coentrao

Mourinho opted to sign his compatriot from Benfica for around £28million plus Ezequiel Garay in the summer of 2011.

The left-back arrived as a highly-rated 24-year-old, capable of playing in multiple positions and having caught the eye on the international stage for Portugal, but his time at Real Madrid did not go as planned.

Injury problems stopped him from gaining form, and he failed to overtake Marcelo as first choice left-back, but he did start the 2014 Champions League final ahead of the Brazilian.

Coentrao remained a Real Madrid player until 2018, including loan spells at Monaco and Sporting CP, before leaving on a free transfer after 106 appearances for the club.

When he did play, Coentrao was a serviceable defender, but will ultimately be remembered as someone who failed to live up to his potential at the club.

Raphael Varane

An 18-year-old from Ligue 2 joining Real Madrid for £10million would be unthinkable, unless they were a generational talent. Raphael Varane certainly was.

The centre back was eased in immediately, and played nearly 50 games in his first two seasons, before later becoming a first-team regular.

It was at Madrid that the Frenchman became one of the best defenders of his generation, winning four Champions Leagues alongside the legendary Sergio Ramos, and established himself as a France mainstay.

Varane stayed at Real Madrid for 10 years before departing for Manchester United in the summer of 2021, in search of a new challenge.

A teenager from RC Lens had become a Real Madrid legend. His first goal for the club wasn’t bad either…

Nuri Sahin

The Turkish midfielder had become one of the hottest names in Europe whilst at Borussia Dortmund, and Real Madrid had to fight off plenty of interest from around Europe to secure the signature of the 22-year-old.

Winning the title as the Bundesliga Player of the Season in his final year at Dortmund convinced Real Madrid to pay £10million for his services, but this dream quickly became a nightmare.

Injuries kept him out for most of his first season, restricting him to just four league appearances, and a year after he arrived, Sahin was loaned out to Liverpool.

He lasted just six months on Merseyside before his loan was terminated, allowing him to rejoin Dortmund, initially on loan, before a permanent transfer in 2014.

Sahin eventually regained some form, and remained with Dortmund until 2018, before joining Werder Bremen on loan.

It takes a lot to be successful at a club like Real Madrid, and despite his obvious talent, Sahin never found a path to regular minutes in Spain.

Jose Callejon

A criminally underrated winger, Callejon progressed through the ranks in Madrid’s youth academy, but left on a free transfer to join Espanyol in 2008.

After 12 goals in 106 appearances for Espanyol, Real Madrid paid around £5million to bring the 24-year-old back to the capital, where he was used in a rotational role.

Callejon lasted two seasons at Madrid, scoring 20 times in 77 games, before Napoli brought him, Raul Albiol and Gonzalo Higuain to Naples in the same window.

It was at Napoli where Callejon made a name for himself. He was a regular starter for seven seasons, making 349 appearances and scoring 82 goals.

In 2020, Callejon joined Fiorentina on a free as a 33-year-old Napoli hero. Maybe he deserved more of a chance at Real?

READ: Jose Callejon scored the same goal for Napoli for 7 years but nobody noticed

Hamit Altintop

The Turkish midfielder, who was released by Bayern Munich, joined Real Madrid as an experienced backup in the summer of 2011.

The 28-year-old would only make 12 appearances for the club, before being sold to Galatasary a season later for around £3million.

His only goal came in the 89th minute against Sevilla, just minutes after appearing as a substitute.

Altintop joined Darmstadt after his spell at Galatasary, before retiring.

Not one that many will remember.


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