La Liga

Barcelona and Real Madrid: Five Players Who Crossed The Great Divide

 • by Thomas McIlroy
Share:facebooktwitteremail
news now

We all know that when Barcelona really want a player, they’re not averse to getting their current squad members to mention in public how good their potential target is.

And it was no surprise to see Jordi Alba talking up a possible move for a Spanish international midfielder – we all remember how they chased Cesc Fàbregas when he was at Arsenal.

The real shock though was that it was a Real Madrid player – Isco.

READ MORE: The Time Is Right For Isco To Leave Real Madrid

“Good players are always welcome,” Alba told reporters.

“I have a lot of time for Isco. I still know him from when we played together at Valencia and I know he has a lot of quality.

“Time will tell whether anything will happen.”

The 24-year-old has struggled for game time this season at the Bernabéu and with Goal reporting that Isco is a Barcelona transfer target as their hierarchy want him to be their long-term heir to Andrés Iniesta, the move that would send shockwaves through Spanish football seems like a real possibility.

With no player having crossed the divide since 2007, we look back at some previous names to do so.

Javier Saviola

Barcelona 2001-2007
Real Madrid 2007-2009

By no means the biggest name to move from Barcelona to Real Madrid, Javier Saviola was the last man to switch one of Spain’s two biggest clubs for the other.

After arriving at the Camp Nou as a 19-year-old for £15million from River Plate, Saviola had a bright start, scoring 17 La Liga goals.

But he never bettered that and fell out of favour, going on loan to Monaco and Sevilla before his contract ran out in 2007.

He played 123 league games in his six years at Barcelona, scoring 49 goals for the Catalan giants.

Real Madrid took advantage of him leaving the Camp Nou to bring him in but he never really lived up to expectations at the Bernabéu either, and was a bit-part player; in 2009 he complained to Marca about his time in Madrid being intolerable.

The Argentinian made just 17 league appearances, scoring four times for Los Blancos in his two-year spell there, but did manage a La Liga medal, something he never won at Barça.

Luis Figo

Barcelona 1995-2000
Real Madrid 2000-2005

Luis Figo is probably the most famous of all players to switch between the two Spanish giants, and he’s the reason that not many people have done it since.

Figo is public enemy No.1 for Barça fans, without question – supporters infamously threw a pig’s head at him during his second match back at the Camp Nou in 2002.

He had been a real cult hero in Catalonia after his arrival from Sporting Clube de Portugal in 1995, and was a key figure as they won seven trophies, including two La Liga titles.

READ MORE: Luis Figo: From Hero To Villain

In his five years at the club, he had become a figurehead for the Barcelona team and it seemed like, although he was born in Portugal, Catalonia was his home; it appeared as though he would forever be a Blaugrana legend.

That all changed in the summer of 2000 when Florentino Pérez unexpectedly won Real Madrid’s presidential elections and brought in his first galáctico – paying Figo’s buy-out fee, a then-world record €60million.

From that day on, Figo become a hate figure, as the Culés could not believe how someone they treated with such adoration could betray them so, going to their biggest rivals, a symbol of everything Barcelona is not.

The Portuguese superstar went on to win two more titles with Real Madrid, as well as the Champions League – something he didn’t achieve at Barça.

Luis Enrique

Real Madrid 1991-1996
Barcelona 1996-2004

While Luis Figo is a hate figure for Barcelona fans, Luis Enrique is probably the closest thing for Real Madrid supporters – although they haven’t thrown a pig’s head at him.

After making 213 appearances for Madrid in all competitions after joining from Sporting Gijón in 1991, he shocked the footballing world by letting his contract run down and forcing a move to Barcelona, making him a traitor in the eyes of Los Blancos fans.

Barça fans were initially reluctant to welcome the attacker as one of their own, but he soon become a legend in Catalonia, winning two La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey crowns (he only won one of each in Madrid).

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique

READ MORE: Why Jorge Sampaoli Has To Be Barcelona’s Next Manager

He further endeared himself by kissing the Barcelona badge whenever he scored against Madrid in Clásicos.

Enrique retired in 2004 but returned to Barcelona four years later, taking control of the club’s B team, helping them return to the second division for the first time in 11 years.

And after spells at Roma and Celta Vigo, he became Barcelona boss in 2014, leading his side to two league titles, a Champions League and two Copa del Reys – but announced yesterday that he will step down at the end of the season.

Bernd Schuster

Barcelona 1980-1988
Real Madrid 1988-1990

Bernd Schuster was somewhat of a fans’ favourite at the Camp Nou, playing over 200 times during his eight years in Catalonia.

The German midfielder formed a formidable partnership with Diego Maradona and won the La Liga title in 2005.

But like Figo after him, he lost his hero status at Barça when he left for the capital, and to make matters even worse, he played a key role in helping Los Blancos to two league titles in his two seasons at the club.

Just to show he wasn’t a man afraid of upsetting fans, he left for Real Madrid’s rivals Atlético Madrid in 1990.

He did return to Real in 2007 as manager, guiding them to their 31st league title in May 2008, but resigned just six months later after a 4-3 loss to Sevilla.

Michael Laudrup

Barcelona 1989-94
Real Madrid 1994-96

Michael Laudrup is a real rarity, a player to move between the two Spanish giants and not be hated by one side.

The Dane is still held in high esteem at both the Camp Nou and the Bernabéu and has since been linked with coaching both sides.

After joining Barcelona from Juventus in 1989, he won pretty much every trophy possible in his five years in Catalonia, playing alongside the likes of Ronald Koeman, Hristo Stoichkov and Pep Guardiola in Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team”.

READ MORE: Icons Of The 90s: Michael Laudrup

But he left after allegedly falling out with Cruyff, something that Laudrup later denied, and moved acrimoniously to Real Madrid.

Laudrup went onto inspire Madrid to the La Liga crown in his first season at the Bernabéu, playing a pivotal role in a side which broke Barça’s four-year stranglehold on the league, making him the only player ever to win the Spanish league five times in a row playing for different clubs.

For the latest analysis and transfer rumours from Spain, check out our La Liga page.

related
content