Ranking the 75 best players in Real Madrid history

Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Guti
Real Madrid, Guti (Photo credit should read JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images) /

55. Guti

Guti is cult hero for Real Madrid fans. The man oozes Madridismo, and while he was often criticized for not caring enough on the pitch, that was just how the man played. He was an artist masquerading as a footballer, a man who could break the lines in ways that defensive lines were simply not meant to be broken.

His backheel to Karim Benzema alone is worth a top-60 finish. Guti was true to Madrid from 1995 to 2010 before finishing his career in Besiktas. He once had 14 goals as a 23-year-old and 14 assists as a 30-year-old. That sums up the peak excellence Guti was capable of achieving, as well as his duality throughout his career. Guti has a complex legacy but one that is respected by Madridistas.

54. Uli Stielike

Another legendary German, Uli Stielike spent more time at Real Madrid than Paul Breitner, scoring 41 goals in 215 appearances despite being a sweeper. World-class through and through, Stielike was named the best foreign player in the league for four straight seasons, and he also captured the league title three times and the UEFA Cup once.

53. Pahiño

With 109 goals in 124 games from 1948 to 1953, Pahiño was an incredibly prolific forward for Real Madrid. If he were at any other club, he would rank much, much higher on an all-time list. It’s just that the Merengues have had so many prolific scorers throughout their history. Pahiño won the Pichichi at Real, and while he had to take a backseat to Alfredo di Stéfano later on, he made a positive impact on the club.

52. Míchel Salgado

Defensive players are very underrated historically. People focus more on what is easier to evaluate – goals and highlight reels, of which there are more of them for the goal-scorers. So Míchel Salgado, an excellent defender who was as tough as they come and oozed Madridismo, gets disrespected by children of the day or the children of his era who only remember the errors.

Being a defender is cruel, but so was Salgado. He was a player nobody wanted to cross and a locker room leader for Real Madrid during a turbulent time after Fernando Hierro and Vicente del Bosque were pushed out by an imprudent and then-immature Florentino Pérez.

Salgado won four league titles and two Champions League titles at Real Madrid, appearing in a whopping 251 matches as a center back. It is not easy to last that long as a defender in Madrid.

51. Héctor Rial

Just missing out on the top 50, San Lorenzo product Héctor Rial was one classy forward, claiming five European Cups with the Merengues while scoring 60 goals. He was an elite winger and playmaker, making the great players around him even better and managing to become a club legend despite sharing the stage with the likes of Paco Gento and Di Stéfano.