Real Madrid continue to embrace a ‘Galactico’ transfer policy, with the likes of Neymar and Eden Hazard reported to be future targets, but that approach has been questioned by former boss Carlos Queiroz.
Throughout two spells working under the presidency of Florentino Perez, the Blancos have placed a great deal of emphasis on the need to bring in marquee signings during any given summer transfer window.
The likes of Luis Figo, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, his Brazilian namesake, Zinedine Zidane and Kaka have all been acquired down the years at some considerable outlay.
Superstar additions have been made in an effort to preserve high standards on the field, but off-field marketing is considered to be as important for a club with a fan base which stretches to every corner of the world.
Queiroz believes shirt sales have become too much of an issue at times, with his short reign at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2003-04 offering him an insight into a business model which often presents as many problems as it does benefits.
The Portuguese told Tribuna Expresso: “When I was told about the project and offered the job, I didn’t feel deceived or lied to. I knew exactly what the job entailed from what [Jorge] Valdano had explained to me. ‘We need a coach to lead this project and you are the man we are looking for’.
“When you receive an offer from Real Madrid, the first thing you do is accept – you think about it later.
“During the years I was at Real Madrid, it was a selling club – not a buying club, as it had a target to reach, lowering the deficit to zero, which the president had promised club members. The policy was basically: six Galacticos – all of whom were in midfield to attack and the ‘Pavones’ in defence. But in that squad, there was also [Claude] Makelele and [Fernando] Morientes and both of them left.
“With Morientes, immediately after the Super Cup, I had a couple of words with him and said: ‘See you on Tuesday’ and he replied: ‘Tuesday? Haven’t you heard? I’ve been loaned out to Monaco’. I had no idea.
“At least, I thought, I still had Makelele and I could drop [Ivan] Helguera back into central defence, where he did well. But shortly after that Makelele left to join Chelsea because he wasn’t selling shirts and so that Beckham could play in the middle. Beckham’s position was right wing but when I joined Real Madrid, that position was already filled by Figo.”
Queiroz added on a sometimes baffling recruitment policy: “There were more problems. Madrid had signed Gabriel Milito to replace captain Fernando Hierro who had been released just two days after winning the league.
“We’d lost Hierro. I needed a centre-back so I brought in Milito. He signed the contract after passing his medical but by the afternoon it had all fallen through, he had been rejected. I recommended signing Luisao, who was at Benfica and Pepe, who was with Maritimo – we could have signed Pepe for 1.5 million euros then years, years later, Madrid paid 30 million for him.
“There were three mortal sins committed when I was at Madrid – the three ‘M’s: Milito, Makelele and Morientes. Those three mistakes cost the jobs of the three or four coaches after me and many millions of euros in rebuilding for Madrid.
“Those three sins changed everything and was the reason why it all went bad.
“I don’t regret my time at Real Madrid. I’d say yes and do it all over again. You know, the idea wasn’t bad – mixing top players with young, developing players. Nowadays, young players have to be good – not players who Spanish clubs wouldn’t even take on loan.”