This lad's done alright...

Where are they now? The 7 signings made by Rafa Benitez at Real Madrid

Rafa Benitez was four points off the top of La Liga when he was sacked as Real Madrid manager. He’d only been there six months. It’s brutal at the top.

By the start of the following season, Benitez was preparing for a season in the Championship with Newcastle United. From Ronaldo, Benzema, and Bale, to Daryl Murphy, Sammy Ameobi, and Matt Ritchie. That’s some juxtaposition.

Los Blancos made seven signings whilst Benitez was in charge, and they were, for the most part, pretty bloody decent. We’re taking a look at those seven signings, and what they’re up to in 2024.

Mateo Kovacic

The Croatian was 21 when he landed in Madrid. Following 80 appearances for Inter, the Italians were forced to sell Kovacic to Real due to Financial Fair Play regulations, and they would come to regret it.

Kovacic won La Liga the season after Rafa was sent packing, as well as three consecutive Champions Leagues before heading to England.

The midfield all-rounder was superb in his five seasons at Chelsea and, now, he’ll probably end up winning winning trophies left, right, and centre with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.


You know all about Casemiro — one of the best defensive midfielders of our time, cheeks like a Pikachu, slowly winding down his career with an incredibly weird Manchester United side.

At Real Madrid, though, he was truly great. He lifted the Champions League trophy five times. Five. Winning one Champions League is the pinnacle of most footballers’ careers. To win five? Impossible to imagine.

Cristiano Ronaldo looks on for Real Madrid.

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


This man does not get the respect he deserves, quite frankly. Do you know who the last non-Italian captain of Juventus was before Danilo was appointed skipper this season?

Give up? Omar Sivori in 1965, and he was part-Italian.

The Brazilian was a regular in his two seasons at Real Madrid, and went on to win all the domestic trophies with Man City. We’re aware Juve are in a slump right now, but this is the start of the campaign to put some respect on Danilo’s name.

Kiko Casilla

Casilla was signed to play second fiddle to Keylor Navas, just as Iker Casillas left. You do have to wonder if they just signed the goalkeeper with the most similar name to the Blancos legend to lessen the emotional blow for the fans.

Like when your parents keep buying new goldfish and you don’t realise until you’re 27 and begin to wonder why your childhood pet lived five times longer than it should have.

You might remember the Spaniard’s spell at Leeds when they were in the Premier League, before he was ousted by Illan Meslier and sent on loan to Elche.

Casilla signed for Getafe on a year contract in 2022 but never made a competitive appearance and has been without a club since that deal expired. At 37, this might be the end of the road for the veteran.

READ NEXT: Where are they now? Zinedine Zidane’s 11 signings as Real Madrid manager

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Jesus Vallejo

The central defender was signed as an 18-year-old after impressing at Zaragoza. A hot prospect to be moulded into a future star for the Merengues. Five loan spells later, the Spaniard is still on the books, but yet to nail down a place at Real Madrid.

However, he’s still only 27. Anything could happen…

Marco Asensio

Asensio wasn’t technically a Benitez signing, to be fair. An agreement had been reached with Mallorca before Rafa arrived in the Spanish capital, and there was much excitement surrounding it.

After spending a season on loan at Espanyol, Asensio became a stalwart at Madrid, making almost 300 appearances before moving to Paris to sit on PSG’s bench.

To be fair, he’s got five goals in his 20 appearances for the Parisians, which, considering he’s more of a playmaker, is a pretty decent return.

Benitez has managed multiple teams in England, Italy and Spain.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every club Rafael Benitez has managed?

Lucas Vazquez

The Spaniard has become Los Blancos’ Jack-of-all-trades down their right flank. A sort of premium Jacob Murphy (or poor man’s Jacob Murphy, depending on your opinion), if you like.

Vazquez wasn’t so much signed, but promoted and sent on loan to gain experience during Rafa’s time at the Real, but he’s proven to be a wonderful servant for the club, approaching 350 appearances.

Still can’t get a game for Spain, despite having won more club honours than Diego Maradona, but that’s the way it goes.