The three best January transfers in Real Madrid history

Real Madrid, Marcelo, Gonzalo Higuain (Photo credit should read CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Marcelo, Gonzalo Higuain (Photo credit should read CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid is one of the most active clubs in the transfer market, as the club keeps tabs on a lot of talented players from different regions, and have a habit of signing football’s biggest superstars. They spend a lot on players, but not a lot during the winter transfer window in January every year.

Real Madrid always has a full squad, with motivated players who don’t want to leave the club until the end of the season. There won’t be a lot of vacant spots in the usually balanced squad of Real Madrid, and even the manager doesn’t like to tinker with the squad midway through the season. For example, the club was about to sign Kepa Arizzabalaga in January 2018, but the then manager Zinedine Zidane didn’t give a green light to the transfer, as he didn’t want to change anything until the end of the season.

In the last six winter transfer windows, the club has signed only Brahim Diaz and Reinier Jesus, with the former’s transfer being a move that was forced by his previous club Manchester City, who didn’t want to lose him for free after six months. This explains how inactive Real Madrid usually are during the January transfer window.

The club has indeed made a considerable number of January signings in their history, but not a lot of those players have succeeded at the club. Only a few have been able to make a serious impact at the club, winning multiple trophies here. Let us have a look at three of the best January transfers in the history of Real Madrid.

Real Madrid, Gonzalo Higuain (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Gonzalo Higuain (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images) /

3. Gonzalo Higuain

The first name on the list is that of Gonzalo Higuain, popularly known as ‘El Pipa’. He isn’t a club legend, but he was a very useful player for the club, playing for seven seasons at Real Madrid and scoring 121 goals in 264 games for the club.

He arrived at Real Madrid in January 2007, just a month after he turned 19. The club had initially offered a fee of 10 million euros, but River Plate didn’t accept the amount, as they wanted to have him until the end of the season. But eventually, they had to sell Higuain and Fernando Gago to Real Madrid, for a combined sum of 20 million euros. Higuain’s transfer fee was around 13 million euros, which is 3 million more than what Real Madrid had initially offered. But if you look at the transfer fee now, it would seem like a bargain, considering Higuain’s great career at the Spanish capital.

Higuain expected to play at Castilla for the remainder of the season but had a great surprise when the then-manager Fabio Capello told him on his second day that he would play for the first team. He also got his first start soon in Copa Del Rey, claiming an assist in his debut.

He had some troubles adapting to a new club at a young age, and had issues with form and fitness in his first two seasons. But he started to get more opportunities in 2008/09 due to Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s injuries, and he exploded that season, scoring 24 goals for the club in all competitions.

The club had then signed Karim Benzema, Kaka, and Cristiano Ronaldo in a historic transfer window in 2009, looking to turn around everything. The move was not received well by Higuain, who expected to be a starter after an excellent 2008/09 season.

There was more competition for his spot, but he rose to the challenge and scored 27 goals that season in LaLiga alone, a goal more than Cristiano Ronaldo in LaLiga. He was immediately rewarded with a contract extension until 2016.

In the next three seasons under Mourinho, neither he nor his competitor Benzema was a fixed starter for the club. Both of them got an almost equal share of minutes, and they registered excellent numbers, benefitting a lot from the Portuguese manager’s counter-attacking system. Their competition with each other pushed them to perform better, which proved to be even better for the club.

He eventually left Madrid for Napoli in the summer of 2013 in search of a bigger role, after winning a total of three league titles. He left after registering 121 goals and 56 assists in 264 games, which is enough to talk about how good a signing he was for the club. And those 121 goals included some high-quality goals. His sale generated around 37 million euros for the club, which meant that the club was able to benefit financially as well due to the Argentine.