Real Madrid used to be renowned as the biggest sharks in the transfer market.
Any player they wanted, they would openly target, begin to release transfer stories to the Spanish press and no matter the situation they would get their man.
However, in recent years, a lot has changed – when was the last time they signed a galactico?
Madrid re-signed Mariano from Lyon for £23m just a year after selling him to the French club for £7m.
The transfer signifies a shift in Real’s overall transfer policy and continues a bizarre trend we’ve seen over the past five years.
The club is no longer signing the best players in the world but either buying back or bringing back players they’d already let go.
It used to be Barcelona’s thing to heavily overpay to bring a player back once they had let them go – like we saw with Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas and Jordi Alba.
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In the last five years no more than 11 players have returned to the Bernabeu having left on a transfer or loan deal.
Mariano and Dani Carvajal were both bought back for more than they left, while Lucas Vazquez was brought back from his loan by Rafa Benitez after Espanyol tried to exercise their option to buy.
In addition Denis Cheryshev, Casemiro, Alvaro Morata, Marco Asensio, Jesus Vallejo, Marcos Llorente and Borja Mayoral were all loaned out before being recalled to the first team.
Loan moves are commonplace for young players at big clubs but what is striking is that Real are now relying on these players instead of going out and buying the world’s best talent.
Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo left the club in the summer and you would have expected Los Blancos to replace him with one of Kylian Mbappe, Eden Hazard or Neymar – but they couldn’t get a deal over the line.
Instead they have had to move for former Real youth player Mariano, for £16m more than they sold him a years ago.
You have to go all the way back to the summer of 2015 for the last time Real spent over €50m on a player when they bought World Cup star James Rodriguez from Monaco.
Since then they have relied on the brilliance of Ronaldo and sometimes Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in support.
Admittedly it hasn’t worked out too badly for them with three Champions League trophies in the last three years.
But the Mariano deal seems to represent a shift away from the post-2000 galactico era for Madrid.
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