Five Real Madrid transfer flops to rival retired Eden Hazard - including ex-Newcastle and Everton stars

The Belgian announced his retirement from professional football on Tuesday.
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The original ‘Eden Hazard’ was, of course, the apple; that seductive, forbidden fruit offered forth by a velvet-tongued serpent who doomed mankind to a torrid existence of fig leaves and epidurals. If the Bible is to be believed, it is that cardinal lapse from which all toil and anguish stumbled into being.

To that end, there is something paradisiacal and lost about Eden Hazard himself, too. Who knows where his career might have come to rest had he been able to resist the mesmerising charms of Real Madrid’s renown - the incalculable promise of trophies and bank account noughts enveloping everything like the sibilant tide of a snake’s hiss.

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As it is, however, the Belgian - for seven years the pride of an august Chelsea - has today announced his retirement at the improbably tender age of 32. In retrospect, like Eve’s first chomp on the apple, that move to Madrid was a death knell of sorts, but by no means is Hazard the only towering player to have come unstuck in the Spanish capital...

Eden Hazard celebrates with his Real Madrid teammates. The Belgian retired from professional football on Tuesday at the age of 32.Eden Hazard celebrates with his Real Madrid teammates. The Belgian retired from professional football on Tuesday at the age of 32.
Eden Hazard celebrates with his Real Madrid teammates. The Belgian retired from professional football on Tuesday at the age of 32.

Jonathan Woodgate

We’ll start with a classic of the genre. Jonathan Woodgate arrived in Madrid all alice bands and papier mache thighs, but there was hope that he could prove himself to be the English game’s next great continental export. Of course, things didn’t pan out that way.

After waiting a full year to make his debut, the centre-back was subjected to one of the most torturous bows in footballing history. An own goal was swiftly followed by a red card, and while he received a sympathetic standing ovation from the Real support that day, he would be seen just eight more times in the famous white jersey before he slunk back to the overcast isle from whence he came.

Luka Jovic

They say diamonds are formed under pressure, and that is certainly true. But anybody who has spent even the briefest of time doomscrolling through those morbidly addictive videos of industrial hydraulic presses crushing and deforming household objects will also tell you that pressure can often have catastrophic results.

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So it was with Luka Jovic. After scoring 10 goals in 14 Europa League matches during a loan spell with Eintracht Frankfurt, courtesy of parent club Benfica, there was a belief that the Serbian could become the next all-conquering prospect in world football. Compelled to cough up £57 million or so for his services, Real Madrid were, however, left cradling a dud. Three goals in 51 outings were the limp precursor to a free transfer away from the Santiago Bernabeu last summer.


Oh, what might have been. Kaka arrived in Spain for a world record transfer fee as a 27-year-old Ballon d’Or winner. Expectations, understandably, were high. But instead of acting as the Polaris of Real’s glittering constellation of a squad, the Brazilian instead spent most of his time battling injury with a Sisyphean frustration.

By the time Jose Mourinho and Mesut Ozil arrived in Madrid, the writing was on the wall, and the midfielder - so otherworldly in his pomp - was never quite the same player again.

James Rodriguez

In 2014, the world fell head over heels in love with Colombian talisman James Rodriguez. Here was a player as mercurial as he was precocious, a simmering darling waiting in the wings for his chance on the biggest stage of them all. And yet, it never quite worked out at Real Madrid.

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His first season did, in fairness, yield 17 goals across all competitions, but once Zinedine Zidane arrived in the dugout his opportunities dwindled exponentially, and it wasn’t long before he was being buffeted from one underwhelming loan move to another. Now playing for Sao Paulo in Brazil, his fall from grace in the European game looks to be absolute.

Walter Samuel

They used to call Walter Samuel, amongst other things, ‘The Wall’. During his time in Madrid, he was more like a rickety garden gate with a knackered latch. Quite why the Argentine was unable to thrive in La Liga following his big money move from AS Roma in 2004 remains a mystery, and the whole sorry situation was made all the more baffling by the manner in which he slipped effortlessly back into his old granite ways upon his return to Italy a year later.

As former coach Fabio Capello once put it: “The fact that he did not make a name for himself at Real Madrid still surprises me. Perhaps it was the wrong time.” Sometimes these things are just not meant to be.

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