Where are they now? The 6 ill-fated Real Madrid signings made by Julen Lopetegui

Julen Lopetegui’s short spell at Real Madrid was shrouded in controversy. But what kind of legacy did he leave at the Bernabeu?

He lost his job as Spain coach on the eve of the 2018 World Cup in Russia after Los Blancos announced that he’d agreed to become Zinedine Zidane’s successor.

The former Porto coach arrived back in the Spanish capital earlier than planned that summer and got straight to work on the training ground, while the club backed him with six new signings ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.

But Madrid made a poor start and he was sacked by November. What became of those signings, though? We’ve checked back on the six squad additions that the club during Lopetegui’s tenure.

Thibaut Courtois

It was in Madrid that Courtois first established himself as a world-class goalkeeper, having played a key role in Atletico’s 2013-14 title victory and unforgettable run to the Champions League final.

The brilliant Belgian subsequently did his reputation no harm with four solid seasons back at parent club Chelsea, in which he won two Premier League titles, a League Cup and an FA Cup.

A return to Spain was always mooted in the press and the writing was on the wall for his future at Stamford Bridge in 2017-18. He remained a Chelsea player while away with Belgium at the 2018 World Cup but his move to Madrid was finally confirmed in early August.

Courtois has since won everything there is to win with Madrid and was particularly outstanding in the 2021-22 Champions League triumph, making a record number of saves in the final victory over Liverpool.

But an ACL injury has kept him sidelined for the entirety of this season and a recent setback might yet keep him out of action until 2024-25.

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Alvaro Odriozola

Talked up as one of the finest young prospects in Spanish football, Odriozola caught the eye after an excellent 2017-18 breakthrough campaign with Real Sociedad.

The right-back was signed as a 22-year-old for €40million fee, but he never really made it beyond the fringes. He spent five years on their books but was loaned out to Bayern Munich and Fiorentina and only made 34 La Liga appearances.

In September he returned to Real Sociedad, but so far this season he’s only made four league starts in his second stint with his boyhood club.

Mariano Diaz

The Dominican Republic international progressed through Madrid’s reserves teams and was sold to Lyon in 2017 before the club bought him back the following summer.

Diaz scored 18 goals in Ligue 1 in 2017-18, suggesting that he could be a lethal asset for Los Blancos, but opportunities were few and far between on his return to the club. Nevertheless, he seemed satisfied to play the role of bench-warmer and scored 12 goals in 84 appearances across five seasons.

Madrid released Diaz last summer. He’s since joined Sevilla on a free transfer but is yet to open his account for the Rojiblancos.

Andriy Lunin

Keylor Navas had just lifted a third successive Champions League trophy in 2018, but that summer Madrid acted decisively in the transfer market to secure his successor(s).

The Costa Rican stuck around for one final season before definitively getting usurped by Courtois, while highly-rated young Ukrainian ‘keeper Lunin was brought in from Zorya Luhansk with one eye on the future.

Lunin went out on loan to Leganes, Valladolid and Oviedo to gain experience of Spanish football. He’s since taken his opportunity to deputise for injured No.1 Courtois, winning the battle with Chelsea loanee Kepa Arrizabalaga to get the nod from Carlo Ancelotti.

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Omar Mascarell

A bit of financial jiggery-pokery, this one.

Like Diaz, Mascarell had progressed from the youth ranks before moving elsewhere. The club exercised his €4million buy-back clause to sign him from Eintracht Frankfurt, only to immediately make double that back by selling him onto Schalke.

The defensive midfielder got relegated with Schalke in 2020-21 and is now back in Spain, turning out for Mallorca.

Lucas Torro

Some more cold hard business, here. Madrid exercised their buy-back on Torro in the summer of 2018, only to sell him on for profit.

The midfielder effectively moved from Osasuna to Eintracht Frankfurt, where he ended up replacing fellow Madrid old boy Mascarell.

Torro rejoined Osasuna in 2020 and has now made over a hundred appearances in his second stint at El Sadar.