Yep, this actually happened.

Where are they now? The 10 signings Carlo Ancelotti made in his first stint as Real Madrid manager

Managing Real Madrid just once is one of football’s highest honours, so for Carlo Ancelotti to have managed them twice in his career speaks volumes about his abilities.

Everybody knows all about the Italian coach and his marvellous transition from player to manager, becoming the most successful of all in the Champions League and taking charge of some of the world’s biggest clubs. Milan, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, just to name a few.

What was that, you say? A spell at Everton? Don’t recall. Sorry.

But as Don Carlo puts together a fine second stint at Real with a youthful side on a charge for a La Liga and Champions League double, we’ve decided to look back at where the 10 signings he made during his first spell between 2013 and 2015 are now.


From the moment Isco emerged as a promising young Spanish talent at Malaga, it was abundantly clear that he’d be hoovered up by one of Real or Barcelona.

The tricky midfielder won the Golden Boy award in 2012 and made the move to Madrid in 2013 for €30million, getting off to the perfect start with a goal and an assist against Real Betis on debut. He played some of his best football under Ancelotti, but fell out of favour in the years that followed and eventually faded into a rotation arm.

After years out of the limelight and a brief but bleak spell with Sevilla, a now 31-year-old Isco is enjoying the ultimate career revival with Real Betis.

Dani Carvajal

Weird one, this. Carvajal was incredibly close to being a one-club man, signing for Real at 10 years old and going all the way to captaining the Castilla side, but then left for Bayer Leverkusen in 2012 in search of first-team football.

He only lasted a year in Germany, however, with Ancelotti buying him back in 2013 for just €5million. Since then, the Spanish full-back has made over 400 appearances for the club and been instrumental in winning five Champions League titles.

Ancelotti still gets use out of him now at 32.

QUIZ: Can you name Real Madrid’s XI from the 2014 Champions League final?


Real signed Casemiro from Sao Paulo in January 2013 and immediately assigned him to their Castilla team, but made the deal permanent when Ancelotti arrived that summer.

He spent a season with Los Blancos’ first-team before heading to Porto on loan for the 2014-15 season, where he excelled and almost moved to Portugal permanently before they quickly activated a clause which allowed him to return to Madrid for a fee.

Three La Liga, three Club World Cups, five Champions Leagues, you know the script. A legend. He joined Manchester United for a mammoth €70million in 2022, but has since looked incredibly leggy and over the hill. Real got rid of their legend at the perfect time.

Asier Illarramendi

The first miss on the list for Don Carlo, Real parted with the biggest fee they’d ever paid for a Spaniard to sign Illarramendi for €32.2million in 2013 following his exploits with Real Sociedad.

He never quite fit in, though, and returned to Sociedad two years later with Ancelotti also departing the club, spending a further eight years in San Sebastian.

Illarramendi moved to FC Dallas in 2023 and is still out in the States now.

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TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Real Madrid’s 25 most expensive sales in history?

Gareth Bale

One of football’s most high-profile moves of all time, Bale’s then-record transfer to Real felt so surreal in 2013. Joining Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in attack, Los Blancos’ trio would go toe-to-toe with Messi-Suarez-Neymar and give us one of football’s greatest rivalries.

The Welshman could strangely never shake criticism from the media and it eventually became too much which resulted in a sour end to his Real Madrid career, involving a loan back to Tottenham and months spent in exile on the subs bench, but he enjoyed a brief revival under Ancelotti before leaving for LAFC in 2022.

He retired after one season of MLS in 2023, winning the MLS Cup. Arguably the greatest British player of all-time, history will look back brilliantly on Bale’s time in Madrid which was largely exceptional – even if he did prefer playing golf to representing the club at times.

James Rodriguez

The stellar season at Monaco, breakout World Cup performance, after signing for Real for £63million, it all just felt written in the stars for Rodriguez to become the dream Galactico in the summer of 2014.

Under Ancelotti in his first season, he was, bagging 17 goals and assisting 18 in all competitions. It all went south after the Italian’s departure in 2015.

The Colombian won plenty at Madrid, but was always on the fringes and never really lived up to the hype. He spent time on loan with Ancelotti at Bayern Munich, before joining Everton on a permanent deal during the fever dream-esque COVID-19 season of 2020-21, again reuniting with Ancelotti.

Now 32 – no, really – Rodriguez is playing for Brazilian side Sao Paulo after spells in Qatar and Greece.

Toni Kroos

Yet another major hit for Ancelotti, Kroos’ signing in 2014 was so important to the club that he’s still there now and still one of the first names on the teamsheet in Ancelotti’s second spell, a decade on.

Things could’ve been so much different had United not sacked David Moyes and scuppered a deal he’d agreed with the German that would’ve seen him come to Old Trafford.

At 34, he’s set to agree a new deal to stay at Real for another season of dominating midfield, one pass at a time. Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema celebrate

READ: An amazing XI of players that miss out in Toni Kroos’ best teammates XI: Benzema, Varane…


Keylor Navas

To say that Real got their money’s worth out of Navas, who Ancelotti signed for just €10million in the summer of 2014, would be an understatement.

Consistently fluttering between first and second choice, Navas was both a brilliant number two and the perfect rotation goalkeeper for big cup competitions when needed, particularly shining in the Champions League where he was always first choice and always relied on to carry Los Blancos.

Navas joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2019, but spent time on loan at Nottingham Forest in 2023 and almost joined Al-Nassr this season. He didn’t, though, and continues to serve as backup to Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Javier Hernandez

A strange one, this. Having fallen out of favour at Manchester United and with just a year left on his deal, Ancelotti brought Hernandez to Real on loan with an option to buy in the summer of 2014.

He was never going to start in an attacking prong that consisted of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, but did score nine times and assist nine times in all competitions, including the winner against Atletico Madrid to send Real to the Champions League semi-final.

Having played in Leverkusen, London, Seville and Los Angeles, ‘Chicharito’ is now back in Mexico where it all started with Guadalajara.

Lucas Silva

The final signing of Ancelotti’s first spell in charge of Real, Silva was signed in January 2015 for a reported €14million from Cruzeiro.

By the summer, however, Ancelotti had gone and the midfielder had been loaned out to Marseille. His Real contract expired in 2019 and he left without any noise, returning to Brazil with Gremio.

Silva is now back at Cruzeiro, having never made it stick in European football or ever been capped at senior level by Brazil. A rare miss by Ancelotti.