As one of the premier football clubs throughout all of Europe, Real Madrid tends to get its choice of players to acquire. Throughout the years, some of these players have been slam dunks that ended up being well worth their massive contracts. However, there have also been plenty of players who failed to live up to their contracts, wasting millions along the way. Let’s take a look at some of the worst signings in Real Madrid history, showing just how much it set the franchise back.
Serbian Luka Jovic was supposed to be a big-time goal-scorer for Real Madrid, and the club got him at a young age. Jovic spent his entire youth career with Red Star Belgrade and went on to make his debut with the senior squad in 2014. Jovic scored a dozen goals in 42 league games, then made his way to Benfica where he was sent on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt.
In the summer of 2019, Jovic was free to sign anywhere and got a €60 million deal over six years with Real Madrid. Jovic made just 36 league appearances during that time, netting only three goals. Injuries mounted quickly, and Jovic’s tenure with Real Madrid ultimately fizzled out.
Walter Samuel had been one of the best defenders of his time, especially in South America and Italy. Samuel was born in Argentina and made his professional debut with Newell’s Old Boys before having his big breakout with Boca Juniors. In 2000, he made his way to AS Roma where he made more than 120 appearances before joining Real Madrid for his brief stint from 2004 to 2005, earning €25 million.
Samuel did net two goals with Real Madrid but appeared in only 30 league matches with the club. It turns out that Samuel just wasn’t a good fit for Spanish football, because his career both prior to and following his Madrid stint were fantastic, and he finished his career with a long list of honours.
While most of the players on the list at least got a couple of dozen matches in with Real Madrid, that wasn’t the case for Julien Faubert. Faubert made his professional debut with Cannes in 2002 after spending his youth days with the club, then struck it big with both Bordeaux and West Ham United. With the latter, he made more than 100 league appearances, and in 2009 he was sent out on loan to Real Madrid, but lasted just two matches.
Real Madrid spent £1.5 million to acquire Faubert for the rest of the 2008-09 season, but troubles began instantly when he missed training. There was an option for Real Madrid to extend the contract for three years, but instead, they sucked up the finances, admitting the mistake, and letting him walk after the season.
Englishman Jonathan Woodgate had every Real Madrid supporter excited but nervous. After all, he was just entering the prime of his career when he joined Real Madrid and many thought he could be an all-time great, though he did suffer several injuries. Woodgate came up with the Leeds United club, making more than 100 appearances throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. He then joined Newcastle United for the 2003-04 campaign, joining Real Madrid in August 2004 for £13.4 million.
The problems which plagued Woodgate during his previous stints carried over into his time with Real Madrid. While he was still solid during the times he was actually on the pitch, it was pretty rare to see him. Woodgate required back surgery, and he was limited to just nine total league matches with Real Madrid over a three-year span before joining Middlesbrough.
While Woodgate is an example of rolling the dice on a player who was entering their prime, obtaining Eden Hazard was a case of landing a player toward the end of their prime. The Belgian spent over five years with the Lille organization, playing as part of the senior squad from 2007 to 2012. He then joined Chelsea and made over 250 appearances and scored more than 85 goals. In 2019, Hazard was acquired by Real Madrid for a total between €100 million and €146.1 million.
Real Madrid took a huge chance with the contract as it was signed through June 2024 and he was the most expensive player the club ever signed as long as he were to meet just a handful of the contract variables. Things went south quickly, though, as Hazard had reported to camp out of shape and suffered injuries. Hazard also lost some of his abilities going into his 30s and the club began using him less and less until he became a non-factor.