With the Casemiro saga coming to an end, Generation:Football thought it would be an interesting idea to do a bit of research on the players who have played for both Manchester United and Real Madrid. Below you can find the list of players, ordered by the date in which they joined either of the clubs for the first time.
The first footballer to ever play for both clubs is Laurie Cunningham. He is also the first ever English footballer to play in La Liga. He was a Left Winger who joined Los Blancos from West Bromwich Albion in 1979 for £950,000. He had an instant impact, as he scored a brace on his debut for the Madrid based side. Cunningham remains the only RM player to receive a standing ovation at the Camp Nou.
Cunningham however made only 44 appearances for Real Madrid, winning La Liga once(1980) and the Copa Del Rey twice(1980, 1982). Later in his Madrid career, he was sent on loan to Manchester United, in 1983. Failing to secure a permanent move, he went on loan to Sporting Gijon a year later. Later in his career, he has played for the likes of Marseille, Rayo or Wimbledon. He died in a car accident, aged only 33, in 1989, in Madrid.
A true icon, the first ever global football superstar, one of England’s finest midfielders with 115 caps for the national team, husband to Posh Spice, owner of a football club in the States. What is there to say about David Beckham that is not already public knowledge and well documented? He was a part of the famous Class of ’92 at Manchester United and part of the team’s treble winning campaign in 1999, under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson.
A Right Midfielder, best known for his passing, vision, bending free kicks and excellent work rate, Beckham joined Real Madrid in 2003 from Manchester United after a public feud with Ferguson. He became one of the famous Galacticos, together with Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo Nazario. Even though Real Madrid was stacked with stars, this era didn’t provide a lot of sporting success for Los Blancos, as they have won only a single La Liga title during Beckham’s four years in Spain. Later he played at LA Galaxy, AC Milan and PSG.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy
A controversial figure at the Old Trafford, mostly because of his antics in his last season, Ruud van Nistelrooy remains one of the most lethal Strikers to have ever played in the Premier League. He scored 150 goals, in only 219 games in 5 years for Manchester United, in all competitions. He also won numerous awards, even becoming the PFA Player Of The Year in his first season at the Old Trafford. Ruud Van Nistelrooy is one of the few players to have had successful stints at both clubs.
Best known for his goal scoring ability, Van Nistelrooy moved to the Santiago Bernabeu from Manchester United in 2006, after a feud with Ferguson, over the Dutchman’s attitude and an altercation with Cristiano Ronaldo. He won the Pichichi award, awarded for the top goalscorer in La Liga, in his first season at Real Madrid. Later in his career, injuries started taking a toll on him, but 64 goals in just 96 games, in 4 years is a notable performance.
A true English wonderkid, Liverpool’s young Striker, Michael Owen won the Ballon D’Or at the age of just 22 when The Reds bagged the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup. He had the potential to break more records for both club and country, however injuries left a mark on his career and there was always a feeling that he failed to reach his true potential.
Owen moved to Real Madrid in 2004, however Los Blancos employed the likes of Ronaldo Nazario and Raul Gonzales at the time, so he didn’t see much game time. Despite playing mostly as a reserve, he scored 16 goals in 45 games for Real Madrid, however failing to settle in Spain, he moved back to England, joining Newcastle United after only one season. Later on, in 2009, he joined Manchester United as a free agent, where he failed to find any consistency and left after 3 seasons and only 52 apps.
A capable defender, being comfortable both on the Left and in the Centre, Gabriel Heinze had a career with both ups and downs. He joined ManUtd from PSG in 2004, occupying the Left Back spot in Ferguson’s team. He had a great debut season, being a stable part of the team, however with Manchester signing Patrice Evra, he suddenly became a reserve.
The Argentine defender decided to leave Old Trafford and signed for Real Madrid in 2007. With Real Madrid having a lot of defensive issues at the time, Heinze played mostly in the centre, sharing defensive duties with the likes of Fabio Cannavaro, Sergio Ramos or Pepe. He spent two seasons at the Spanish club, made 44 appearances, however the only trophy he won was a Spanish Super Cup. He moved to Marseille after only 2 seasons.
It is not easy discussing the career Cristiano Ronaldo, without going into too much detail and making the article unnecessarily long. He is one of the best players to ever play the beautiful game, a true legend at both Manchester United and Real Madrid. He joined the Red Devils from Sporting Lisbon at the age of 18 in 2003. Under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson, he made 293 apps, scored 116 goals and provided 59 assists, winning three Premier League titles, a Champions League and his first Ballon d’Or.
Real Madrid broke the bank for him in 2009, paying €94mil, turning him into the most expensive transfer at that time. Having moved into the attack, Ronaldo became the most lethal player on the planet. Ronaldo played at Real Madrid for 9 years, scoring 450 goals in only 438 apps. He won four Ballon D’ors, 4 Champions Leagues trophies, two La Ligas and a number of other trophies.
Angel Di Maria
A talented forward, Di Maria joined Real Madrid from Benfica in 2010 for a hefty €25 million, plus €11mil in addons. Playing most of his career as a winger, he helped Los Blancos lift the Champions League title in 2014, playing mostly in midfield under Carlo Ancelotti. He left Real Madrid the same year, joining Manchester United after 190 apps for Los Blancos, providing 85 assists.
After moving for a staggering £60 million to the Old Trafford, everyone was hoping he would make a positive and instant impact to a side rebuilding after the Ferguon era. Unfortunately however the Argentine failed to settle into Louis Van Gaal’s system and after just one season, 27 appearances, 12 assists and three goals, Di Maria was sold to Paris Saint-Germain. Having played seven successful seasons at the Parc des Princess, he joined Juventus this year on a free.
Chicharito was signed by Manchester United in 2010, from Mexican side, Guadalajara. He played in Manchester for four seasons, made 157 appearances, scored 59 goals and provided 20 assists. The Mexican, the definition of a true super sub, was somewhat of a cult figure at the club and a fan favourite. Often scoring important goals after coming on as a substitute, he was compered to former ManUtd player, now turned manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
In 2014, Javier Hernandez joined Real Madrid on a season long loan. He scored nine goals and provided just as many assists in 33 matches. It was a fairly OK loan, however, Real Madrid chose not to trigger the option to buy clause and Chicha went back to Manchester Utd. He moved to Bayer Leverkusen the same year. He is still active to this day, playing in MLS for LA Galaxy.
Raphael Varane seemed to have played a lifetime at Real Madrid, before making his move to Manchester United in 2021. He joined Los Blancos in 2011, from Ligue 1 side Lens, due to the insistance of French legend Zinedine Zidane. Having joined at the fragile age of 18, Varane had his work cut out for him, as Real’s CB pairing of Sergio Ramos and Pepe seemed unbreakable. After only 2 seasons however, he managed to become a starter, alongside the Spaniard. He left Real Madrid after 10 years and 360 apps.
After stating he is looking for a new challenge, Manchester United signed him up for €40mil, hoping that he will form a formidable partnership with €80mil Centre Back, Harry Maguire. After some decent performances, injuries started affecting Varane’s performance and the Frenchman only managed to gather 23 apps in the Premier League, with the Red Devils finishing 6th and failing to qualify for this year’s Champions League. Remains to be seen whether the French CB would be able to turn his fortune around under ten Haag at Manchester United.