Eden Hazard is the latest in a string of top Premier League talents to agonise over staying put and dominating England’s top-flight, or realising Galactico status with Real Madrid.
Here, Press Association Sport examines some high-profile Madrid moves from Premier League stars.
Then-president Florentino Perez spent almost the first half of 2003 insisting Real Madrid would not be signing Beckham under any circumstances. And then the England talisman left Manchester United to sign for the Spanish giants for £24.5million. So fractious was his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson that the story of the taskmaster United boss kicking a stray boot into his face found its way to the papers, ahead of Beckham’s messy exit.
England winger McManaman faced an entirely different move to Madrid from the speculation-rife build-up that surrounded Beckham. Leaving Liverpool in 1999, McMananaman joined a Madrid in crisis, with even stalwart striker Raul revealing he felt “sorry” for the pacy forward for arriving in the middle of such dressing-room unrest. Fast-forward to that coming season’s Champions League final though, and all those squabbles were forgotten, as McManaman’s fine volley sealed a 3-0 triumph over Valencia.
Madrid’s peak Premier League poach, Ronaldo traded United for Galactico status in a world-record £80million deal in 2009. In nine years he racked up an all-time record 450 goals from 438 appearances, including 311 in La Liga. Those stunning statistics also comprised 44 hat-tricks in all competitions. By the time he left for Juventus this summer, Ronaldo had smashed almost every Madrid record going, barring Raul’s appearance tally of 741.
Liverpool forced £30million out of Real when Spain midfielder Alonso left Anfield for the Bernabeu in August 2009. Alonso became a key general when Jose Mourinho assumed control at Real, and had a pivotal role in Madrid claiming their elusive 10th Champions League crown in 2014, despite missing the final through suspension.
Wales forward Bale reached Galactico status with a world-record £85million transfer from Tottenham to Real in 2013. The 29-year-old has flourished in Madrid, despite having to fight for game time and space centrally while Ronaldo was king of the Real hill. Bale conjured a stunning overhead kick goal in Real’s 2018 3-1 Champions League final victory over Liverpool, again reaffirming his quality. The former Southampton youngster will now hope to exert his authority as Real’s main man in Ronaldo’s absence.
Chelsea battled long and hard in their attempts to retain Belgium stopper Courtois’ services, but eventually had to succumb to Madrid’s lure just like everyone else. The 26-year-old duly joined Real for a reported £35million in summer 2018. His family had remained in Madrid after a three-year spell at Atletico, and in the end he insisted he wanted to be closer to his wife and children. Chelsea responded by recruiting Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga in a world-record £71million fee for a goalkeeper.