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

Across two separate spells as manager, Zinedine Zidane cemented his legacy as a Real Madrid legend by sweeping up trophies and taking them to new European heights – but how did he fare in the transfer market?

Honing his craft as a coach with the club’s B team, Zidane took over from the sacked Rafael Benitez in January 2016 and led Real to a La Liga and three Champions Leagues back-to-back before resigning in 2o18.

By March 2019, however, he was back in the hot seat and guided the club to another league title before stepping aside in 2021. Zizou signed 11 players across his two spells as manager – and here’s where those signings are now.

Alvaro Morata

Having been sold by Los Blancos in 2014, Morata did enough across two years in Turin with Juventus to earn himself a move back to Real in the summer of 2016, the Spanish giants activating a €30million buyback clause.

Morata spent his one season back with Real playing backup to Karim Benzema and signed for Chelsea the following summer. After flopping in London, he returned to Madrid – with Atletico – where he signed permanently, only to spend a season back on loan with Juve after signing.

He’s now back in Madrid with Atleti. Got all that? Good – because we’re not going over it again. Weirdest career ever.

Theo Hernandez

Snapping him up from their local rivals Atletico, Hernandez joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2017, but was loaned out after just one season to Real Sociedad.

Milan struck a deal to sign the French full-back for €20million in 2019 – €4million less than what Real paid in 2017 – and he’s been flying virtually ever since, developing into quite possibly the best full-back in world football right now in terms of all-round attributes.

Hernandez has managed 29 goals and 38 assists for the Rossoneri and was crucial to them winning the Scudetto in 2021-22, forming a devastating partnership on the left flank with Rafael Leao.

Now 26, he’s even spent time honing his craft at centre-back this season and has been linked with a move back to the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid's French player Zinedine Zidane celebrates after scoring a hat-trick against Sevilla during their Spanish league soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2006.

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Dani Ceballos

The final signing of Zidane’s first stint in charge of Real, Ceballos struggled to meet the standards at Real following his move from Real Betis. Considering the midfield trio he came into disrupt, you can’t really blame him.

Ceballos was loaned out to Arsenal in 2019 and spent two years with the Gunners. By 2021, he returned to Madrid a significantly better footballer and is now a crucial part of Carlo Ancelotti’s squad, signing a contract extension with the club last year through to 2027.

A slow burner, but a shrewd purchase.

Takefusa Kubo

Despite spending time in Barcelona’s academy as a youngster, it was Real who spotted Kubo’s talent and snapped him up in 2019, sending him straight out on loan to Mallorca.

After spending more time on loan with Villarreal, Getafe and Mallorca once again, Kubo was sold to Real Sociedad in the summer of 2022 and has been flourishing since, with 10 goal contributions to his name in La Liga this season from just 23 games.

At only 22, the future looks incredibly bright and it wouldn’t be outlandish to suggest he’s La Liga’s best player that’s not playing at one of the big three sides.

Eden Hazard

In April 2010, Zidane said: “I would take Eden Hazard with my eyes closed.” In 2015, he explained: “After Cristiano and Messi Eden is the player I like the best. It’s spectacular seeing him play.”

In the summer of 2019, he finally got his wish when Real pulled the trigger and paid an initial £89million, handing Hazard a six-year contract in a deal that could’ve been worth as much as £150million. It wasn’t.

Injuries derailed the Belgian from the moment he earned his dream move after seven glorious years at Chelsea, and as his body gave up on him, Hazard gave up on the dream.

What was meant to be one of football’s beautiful stories fizzled out into an unforgettable one – for all the wrong reasons – as he left for free in 2023 before retiring at the age of 32. 

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Eder Militao

2019 proved to be a summer of heavy investment for Los Blancos, who secured the future of their defence by signing Militao from Porto.

It took him a short while to make their €50million look worthwhile, but five years on, the Brazilian is comfortably one of the best in class in world football.

He’s played over 100 times for the club and recently returned from a lengthy layoff from an ACL injury in a bid to help Real hunt down La Liga and a 15th Champions League.

Ferland Mendy

The French left-back cost Real a pretty penny when signing from Lyon in 2019, joining Zidane’s side for a fee of up to €53million.

He’s racked up well over 150 appearances for the club in the years since, holding down the left-back spot with David Alaba injured or used as a central defender, but Mendy hasn’t quite set the world alight and might find himself playing a reduced role if Real get their hands on Alphonso Davies as expected.

Luka Jovic

Another expensive flop signed in the same summer as Hazard, Jovic arrived to the Bernabeu with bags of promise, but injuries and inconsistencies derailed his first season and by the halfway point of his second in Madrid, he’d been loaned back to Eintracht Frankfurt.

He signed for Fiorentina on a free transfer in 2022, ending his nightmare in Madrid, and now finds himself on loan at Milan playing backup to Olivier Giroud. Cristiano Ronaldo looks on for Real Madrid.

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

Alberto Soro

You might not remember Soro’s time at Real. That’s because after signing in the summer of 2019, he was immediately loaned back to Zaragoza and sold the following summer to Granada.

These days, the 25-year-old winger is plying his trade in Portugal with Vizela, on loan from the Spanish club. Bizarre.

Alphonse Areola

The Paris Saint-Germain stopper joined Real on loan as a part of the deal that saw Keylor Navas head in the opposite direction and left as a La Liga winner after one season in the capital.

Since leaving PSG and Real, Areola has gone on to become a European champion. No, really – he kept guard as West Ham won the 2023 Europa Conference League and is now first choice under David Moyes.


Winning the Copa Libertadores with Flamengo was the icing on the cake for Real when eyeing up Reinier, who signed the Brazilian in January 2020 and slotted him straight into their Castilla side.

Reinier has been in the loan cycle ever since, spending two years with Borussia Dortmund from 2020 to 2022 and a season with Girona in 2022-23 – before their current heroics in La Liga – and now currently finds himself in Italy trying to help fire Frosinone away from relegation back to Serie B.