The amount Real have spent trying to replace Makélélé would have bought 28 Casemiros. Only Xabi Alonso was an unqualified success.
How do you solve a problem like Makélélé? That has been the dilemma that Real Madrid has faced over the past four years as 15 defensive midfielders were brought to the Santiago Bernabéu with the intention of freeing up the flair players to do their thing.
Brazil. Silva arrived in 2015 for 14 million euros but failed to adapt, playing only nine games under Carlo Ancelotti. Went on loan to Marseille, who tried to get rid after six months. Míchel ended up dropping him. Cruzeiro would like to have him back.
Brazil. Madrid bought Casemiro back from Porto last summer for 7.5 million euros at the behest of Rafa Benítez. The Brazilian arrived in 2013 to play for Castilla after over 100 senior appearances for Sao Paulo. Has now played 54 times for Madrid and is a regular started under Zidane. Was also instrumental in the Champions League final in Milan.
Spain. Illarramendi was signed to eventually replace Xabi Alonso after starring in Spain’s under-21 European Championship victory in 2013. He never quite lived up to that promise after signing from Real Sociedad for 38.9 million euros. A terrible performance in the Champions League against Dortmund effectively ended his Real Madrid career.
Turkey. A mystery and a disappointment. Injured in his first pre-season training session after arriving in 2011, José Mourinho soon lost patience with him. Real Madrid paid Borussia Dortmund 12 million euros for him and he only played four games in his first season. Loans at Liverpool and Dortmund followed, and he returned to the Westfalenstadion in 2014.
German. Joining Real Madrid for 10 million euros after a stand-out 2010 World Cup, Khedira never played at the same level for Madrid as for Germany and Stuttgart. Spent five years at Madrid, making 161 appearances before signing for Juve last summer.
Ghana. At his presentation, Essien said: “I came because my father Mourinho called.” En su presentación dijo: “Vine porque me llamó mi papi Mourinho”. The Ghana international made 20 appearances in his season at the Bernabéu, in defensive midfield and at full back. He wasn’t the powerful player he had been at Chelsea because his knee had gone. When his loan ended, Real opted not to buy.
Español. The finest “number 5” the club has had. Alonso arrived from Liverpool for 30 million euros in 2009, going on to make 236 appearances in six seasons. Elected to move to Bayern Munich when Real signed Toni Kroos.
Esta seguirá siendo mi casa por dos años más. Un placer comunicároslo. Muy muy feliz ¡¡Hala Madrid!! pic.twitter.com/hURnYccz3W— Xabi Alonso (@XabiAlonso) 8 de enero de 2014
RUBÉN DE LA RED
Spain. Real exercised their buy-back to land De la Red from Getafe for 4.5 million euros in 2008 after he was part of the Euro 2008-winning Spain squad. Played for the first team for three seasons before illness cut short his career.
Frances. The signing of Lass Diarra from Portsmouth for 20 million euros in January 2008 meant that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was omitted from the Champions League list by Juande Ramos. Played 117 times for Madrid in all competitions.
Mali. Signed by Fabio Capello for 26 million euros in 2006, Diarra provided muscle but little technique. Was a regular starter until he suffered a knee injury under Bernd Schuster two years later. Diarra won two Ligas, A copa del Rey and a Supercup at Madrid.
Argentina. “I’ve got more of an eye for goal than Redondo,” Gago said on his arrival at Madrid from Boca Juniors in 2007 for 20 million euros. He scored one in five seasons. Passed into obscurity when Xabi Alonso arrived in 2009.
Brazil. Emerson failed to replicate his form for Bayer Leverjusen, Roma and Juventus at the Bernabéu due to knee injuries. He cost 16 million euros, played 34 times and on one occasion refused to go on as a sub with four minutes on the clock.
Spain. Madrid bought García back after he shone for Osasuna, for a fee of 4.5 million euros. Schuster didn’t give him much playing time though and he made just 15 appearances in 2008-09 before heading to Benfica the following summer for a fee of seven million.
Denmark. Gravesen, “The Ogre,” was signed at the height of Madrid’s Galactico experiment in the winte rmarket of 2004-05 to provide the fist inside the velvet glove. He cost 3.5 million euros, played 35 games and was later frozen out after a training ground fight with Robinho.
Uruguay. Florentino Pérez signed the no-nonsense Uruguay enforcer from Osasuna for 5.5 million euros in 2005. He failed to fit into Vanderlei Luxemburgo’s magic rectangle or in López Caro’s rescue job. García managed 26 games for Madrid before loan spells at Celta and Murcia.