Since 2003, six players have made the switch between Manchester United and Real Madrid. And that figure could rise to seven if Paul Pogba finally makes the move to the Spanish capital.
Old Trafford has served as a stewing pot of footballing stars for Real Madrid over the past two decades. Since the arrival of David Beckham to the Santiago Bernabéu in 2003, six players have made the switch between Manchester United and Madrid (five going from United to Real, while just one went the other way).
And that figure could rise to seven in the event that Paul Pogba, who is a priority request of coach Zinedine Zidane, finally makes the move to the Spanish capital.
David Beckham (2003-2007)
The England midfielder signed for Real Madrid in 2003 for 35 million euros at the age of 28. Los Blancos first reached an agreement with the midfielder, who refused to negotiate with Barcelona, and then went on to close a deal with United, where Beckham had fallen out with coach Alex Ferguson.
"The minute a Manchester United player thought he was bigger than the manager, he had to go," wrote the Scottish coach in his 2013 biography.
Beckham spent four years in the Spanish capital, where he played a key role in winning the LaLiga title in 2006-07, which was his last season at the club. The free-kick specialist played 159 games for Los Blancos, scoring 20 goals and providing 48 assists.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy (2006-2010)
After an illustrious career at Old Trafford, in which he scored 150 goals in 219 games, Van Nistelrooy signed for Real Madrid for 15 million euros during the presidency of Ramón Calderón.
Van Gol, as he was known due to his goal-scoring prowess, arrived at the Bernabéu at the mature age of 30 and won two league titles in 2007 and 2008, as well as the Pichichi trophy in 2007. He became a stalwart in the Madrid attack with Raul and was much loved by the Madrid fans. He netted 64 goals in 96 games.
Gabriel Heinze (2007-2009)
Like Beckham, Heinze’s fallout with Ferguson was the catalyst for his Old Trafford exit. And the same summer that Beckham left the Bernabéu, Real Madrid signed the Argentinean defender for 12 million euros.
The former PSG centre back signed for four years but only stayed for two. In his first year he was part of the side that won the League with an 18-point gap on Barcelona and became one of the leaders of the teams. But his second season in 2008-09, the year Barcelona won the treble with Guardiola, was a disappointment and that summer he left for Marseille for a fee of just 1.5 million euros.
Cristiano Ronaldo (2009-2018)
When Florentino Peréz made Cristiano Ronaldo a Galáctico in 2009, he became the world’s most expensive player and he remains the most costly transaction between Manchester United and Real Madrid. But nobody could argue against the fact the Portuguese star was worth every cent, and he will go down as one of the club’s greatest legends along with the likes of Puskas, De Stefano, Zidane and Raúl.
As a Madridista, CR7 won four Champions Leagues, two LaLiga titles and two Copas del Rey. In addition, on an individual level, Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or four times as a Real Madrid player (five in total after he won it with United in 2008) and is the club’s all-time top goal scorer with 450 goals.
Ángel Di María (Manchester United, 2014-2015)
The one-and-only player who moved in the opposite direction was Ángel Di María. After being chosen as the man of the match in the Champions League final in 2014, helping Madrid to their tenth European cup title, Di María became one of Louis Van Gaal’s marquee signings at Old Trafford and Real Madrid’s most expensive-ever sale (a record broken by Álvaro Morata in 2017).
But at Old Trafford, the Argentina international failed to live up to his 75-million-euro price tag and after one season, in which he scored just four goals in 32 games, he left for PSG for 63 million euros.
Chicharito Hernández (2014-2015)
Mexican forward Javier Hernandez, nicknamed Chicharito, arrived on loan to Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2014. The young striker served as a replacement for Alvaro Morata, who moved to Juventus, and offered competition for Karim Benzema.
Chicharito integrated well during his year in Madrid, although he did not have much luck at a collective level, as he did not win a title. His best memory would be the goal that he scored against Atlético Madrid in the quarterfinals of Champions League to help secure Real’s place in the semi-finals.