The fierce competition between these two Spanish giants, known as “El Clásico,” has produced countless iconic moments, heart-stopping matches, and unforgettable goals. But what about the players who have had the unique experience of donning both the Blaugrana and the Merengue jerseys?
In this article, we will delve into the intriguing a few individuals who have dared to cross the divide, walking a tightrope between loyalty to one club and the allure of the other. Join us as we explore the journeys, challenges, and legacies of these footballing nomads who have left their mark on both sides of the epic rivalry.
In contrast to Figo, the Brazilian Ronaldo is still widely adored by supporters of both teams because he was simply so outstanding.
Ronaldo only stayed at Barcelona for one season, but it was one of the most incredible single seasons in Spanish football history.
In 1996-97, he scored 47 goals in 49 games in all competitions, but a contract disagreement at the end of the season forced him to leave for Inter for a world-record sum, breaking the record he established while joining Barcelona from PSV. He won the Ballon d’Or that year.
When he returned to Spain in 2002, Ronaldo quickly established himself as one of the leading lights of the Galactico generation, earning a second Ballon d’Or and leading La Liga in scoring.
However, during his tenure at the Santiago Bernabeu, he only won one league title and no Champions Leagues before being sidelined by injuries and weight concerns, which marked the start of a protracted fall.
2. Luis Figo
Figo, without a doubt the most well-known example on this list, went from Barcelona’s sweetheart to public enemy number one when he joined Real Madrid. The most famous transfer between Barcelona and Real Madrid occurred in 2000. Luis Figo arrived in Barcelona in 1995 from Sporting Lisbon and remained there until 2000, when he switched to Real Madrid in a record-breaking transfer under Florentino Perez. Luis Figo transferred directly from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000.
At the time, Portugal’s star was the best player in the world. He won the Ballon d’Or shortly after joining Madrid, owing largely to his performances at Barcelona, and his signing was the promise that gained Florentino Perez the presidency of Madrid.
Whenever Figo played at Camp Nou, he was subjected to venomous abuse. “By the second or third corner, I turned to Luis and said: ‘Forget it, mate,” teammate Michel Salgado stated after being showered with missiles taking corners during a game in 2002. ” You’re on your own.”I used to offer Luis the short corner, getting up close to him at the touchline, but not this time. Coins, a knife, and a glass whiskey bottle were showering down from the stands.”
Figo appeared in over 200 games for both clubs, winning two league titles and the 2002 Champions League with Madrid.
3. Luís Enrique
The Sporting Gijon youth player joined Real Madrid in the 1991/1992 season and remained a Real Madrid player for five seasons. In the 1996/1997 season, ‘Lucho’ swapped Madrid for Barcelona, where he stayed until the 2003/2004 season.
Luis Enrique, a dynamic and technically talented midfielder, has played more than 200 times on both sides of the divide and has earned a half-century of international caps for Spain.
Despite winning three trophies in five years at Real Madrid, he left on a free transfer for Barcelona in 1996, claiming he felt underappreciated in the Spanish city. It took some time to win over the Barcelona supporters. But he rose to prominence as a popular character and a beloved captain, scoring in multiple Clasicos against his former club.
Luis Enrique won two league titles and several other trophies as a player before becoming manager of Barcelona, where he won two more league titles and the 2015 Champions League.
4. Samuel Eto’o
Eto’o joined Madrid as a kid after being scouted at Cameroon’s Kadji Sports Academy. But he never made it in the capital, with as many loan periods away from the club as he did league appearances.
He eventually departed for Mallorca, where he scored 54 goals in four and a half seasons before joining Barcelona in 2004.
He loved the opportunity to show Madrid what they were missing. He scored 29 goals in his first season and 34 in his second, totaling 130 goals for the club in all competitions.
Eto’o’s stint in Catalunya was a resounding success, with three league crowns and two Champions Leagues to his name. He moved to Inter in 2009, when he won the treble under Jose Mourinho.
5. Javier Saviola
Argentine forward Saviola scored consistently for three seasons at Barcelona after coming from River Plate to considerable fanfare in 2001.
After very effective loan spells at Monaco and Sevilla, he returned to Barcelona for a year before leaving for Madrid when his contract expired in 2007.
The Bernabeu did not go as planned. He struggled to break into the first-team squad and the arrival of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar from Ajax in 2009 signaled the end of his tenure in Spain.
He moved to Benfica before returning to Malaga for one season before moving on to Olympiacos, Verona, and River Plate.
6. Michael Laudrup
The best Danish player of all time arrived at Barcelona in 1989 to join Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ and stayed at Barcelona until 1994. Real Madrid brought him in after his departure from their eternal rivals, and kept him in their ranks from 1994 to 1996. The Dane was a vital member of the ‘Dream Team’ that won four straight La Liga titles under Johan Cruyff in the early 1990s. He is widely regarded as the best player to ever come out of Scandinavia.
Laudrup was one of the most complete playmakers of all time, and his vision and trickery elevated him to the ranks of the all-time greats.
According to Frank Beckenbauer, “Pele was the best in the 1960s, Cruyff in the 1970s, Maradona in the 1980s, and Laudrup in the 1990s.”
After five brilliant years with Barcelona, he fell out with Cruyff in 1994 and moved straight to Madrid, bringing his winning touch with him – Madrid won their first league trophy in five years in his first season.
Laudrup was on the winning side of two 5-0 Clasico victories, both in his final season at Barcelona and his first at Madrid.
He only lasted two seasons with Madrid before going to Vissel Kobe in Japan, but he was voted the club’s 12th greatest player ever in a poll conducted by Marca in 2002.