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Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil of Real Madrid, 2013

Seven players that snubbed Barcelona to join Real Madrid: Guler, Ozil, Ronaldo….

Harry Watkinson

The so-called ‘Turkish Messi’ Arda Guler has just rejected the chance to join Barcelona and has instead opted to sign for their arch-rivals Real Madrid. 

If he lives up to his potential, the Catalans could live to regret missing out on the attacking midfielder. But, this isn’t the first time a player has turned down the Camp Nou for the Bernabeu.

We’ve gone through seven players who have snubbed the chance to sign for Barcelona in favour of Real Madrid. It’s fair to say history could be very different if some of these deals had worked out differently.

Arda Guler

18-year-old Arda Guler is widely considered to be one of the most exciting youngsters in Europe. And, Real Madrid have just announced his arrival from Fenerbahce on a six-year contract.

The attacking midfielder had a release clause of €18m. But, reports suggest Los Blancos could end up spending €50m on Guler with bonuses included, as well as a hefty commission that has allegedly been paid to Guler’s father.

Barcelona, Newcastle and Liverpool were in the race for Guler. But, Real Madrid are the team who have come out on top.

Now, it will be interesting to see if he can live up to his ‘Turkish Messi’ nickname at the Bernabeu over the next few years.

Antonio Rudiger

Antonio Rudiger ditched Chelsea for Real Madrid in 2022, but not many people realize he could have ended up playing for Barcelona.

The Germany international left Stamford Bridge as a free agent, something which caught the attention of the Catalans, who have had very little to spend over the last few years.

In fact, Rudiger’s stepbrother, Sahr Senesie, met with Barcelona representatives to discuss a possible transfer, before the player agreed a deal with Real Madrid a month later.

“Yes, there was interest from Barcelona,” Rudiger said in a news conference. “But I told my brother it was Real or nothing.”

Vinicius Junior

Undoubtedly one of the best wingers in Europe, Vinicius Junior is another superstar who could have signed for Barcelona instead of Real Madrid.

The Brazil international joined Los Blancos from Flamengo in 2017 for a fee of £38.7million. Since, he has scored 59 goals in 225 appearances, along with making 64 assists.

In the process, he has played a key role in Real Madrid winning two LaLiga titles, a Copa del Rey and a Champions League.

Vini admitted after making the move to the Bernabeu that he could’ve joined their arch-rivals.

“I had proposals from Madrid and Barca. My father told me that I had to choose, and I had to follow my heart,” he said.

Dani Ceballos

Dani Ceballos was one of the most in-demand midfielders in Europe when he joined Real Madrid for €18m in 2017.

Since, he has made 120 appearances for the Spanish giants, scoring six goals and making 12 assists. The Spaniard also spent two years on loan with Arsenal.

But, it could have been very different for Ceballos, who chose to join Real Madrid instead of Barcelona. In an interview, he revealed that Florentino Perez was key in luring him to the Bernabeu.

“I was [in a] tug of war with Real Madrid and Barcelona,” Ceballos said.

“But, it was fundamental when Florentino [Perez] called me. No player is capable of saying ‘no’ to Real Madrid.”

Mesut Ozil

In a very interesting interview in March, Arsenal icon Mesut Ozil revealed that a ‘disappointing’ experience with Pep Guardiola stopped him from joining Barcelona.

The attacking midfielder was all the rage after being on fire in the 2010 World Cup for Germany, and secured a £13million move from Werder Bremen to Real Madrid in that same summer.

But, things could have been very different for Ozil.

“I don’t know if this is known, but I visited Madrid and Barcelona at that time and the difference was Jose Mourinho,” Ozil said.

“Mou gave me a VIP visit to Real Madrid. He took me to see the stadium and all the trophies they had won. That gave me goosebumps.

“The visit in Barcelona was less enthusiastic and what was more disappointing is that Pep Guardiola didn’t bother to meet me.

“Before that trip I really liked Barcelona’s style of football and I could really imagine playing with them, but Madrid went all out.”

Ozil went on to make 159 appearances for Madrid, scoring 27 goals and notching 81 assists.

READ: A tribute to Mesut Ozil at Real Madrid: a ‘unique’ assist king

Isco

A player who enjoyed a lengthy, successful spell at the Bernabeu is Isco, who has won a ridiculous amount of trophies in his career.

Overall, in his nine-year stint with Real Madrid, he won five Champions Leagues, three LaLiga titles and a Copa Del Rey.

But, he came close to ditching Los Blancos in 2017. Indeed, Isco has admitted that Barca made contact with him, before he signed a contract extension.

“There was some contact [with Barcelona], but I did not listen to them,” Isco said.

“I never listened to any offers. My idea was always to be a success at Real Madrid.”

Isco left Real Madrid to join Sevilla in 2022. Now, he is a free agent.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The biggest player that Barcelona missed out on, however, is none other than Cristiano Ronaldo.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner became the world’s most expensive player when he left Manchester United for the Bernabeu in 2009, to the tune of £84.6million.

Ronaldo went on to become Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorer, netting a staggering 450 goals in 438 appearances. Also, he fired his team to two LaLiga titles, two Copa del Reys and four Champions Leagues.

But, he too could have been a Barcelona player. Although, it was the Catalans that rejected the chance to sign him.

Indeed, Joan Laporta revealed that Barcelona had the chance to hijack Man Utd’s move for Ronaldo way back in 2003.

“We were about to sign Ronaldinho and Rafa Marquez,” Laporta said in an interview. “Marquez’s people proposed Cristiano Ronaldo to us. He was at Sporting at the time.

“One of his agents said that they had a player who they had sold to [Manchester] United for €19 million, but they’d sell him to us for €17 million.

“But we had already invested in Ronaldinho. Cristiano played more out wide than in the centre. We thought we were covered, so we rejected him and I don’t regret it.”

History could have been very different if Laporta had decided to splash out on the then-18-year-old. Indeed, he could have been playing alongside Lionel Messi, rather than against him.


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