Four British failures in Spain ahead of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid switch

Jermaine Pennant

Former players at Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Leeds United feature in our four flops in Spain countdown.

Former Bulgarian superstar football Hristo Stoichkov has been putting his two cents into the Gareth Bale saga - and his words are as spiky as ever:

"If Bale is worth €100m, I would have been priceless. No Englishman who came to Spanish football has ever succeeded."

Excusing his lack of geographical nous, and admitting that his price-tag in the modern game would have been astronomical, he also could have a point.

While his posturing could just be from his links with Real’s big rivals Barcelona (whom he played for in two separate stints in the 1990’s) there are certainly a good number of Brits who have failed to crack La Liga and below.

So while we have looked at a few Brits who have made a mark on the Spanish game, here are four now who definitely did not leave anything positive behind on the Iberian Peninsula.

Jermaine Pennant - Real Zaragoza

After his switch to Liverpool went south Pennant decided to switch to Spain - signing a three-year-deal with Real Zaragoza in 2009.

But his time in Spain was sour. Zaragoza struggled at the wrong end of the table and Pennant never settled into the new habitat.

He turned up late for training three times in two weeks - being sent home and fined on the third occasion in February.

He never played for the club again - signing for Stoke City permanently in 2011.

Jonathan Woodgate - Real Madrid

Perhaps one of our worst exports to grace Spanish football, the less said about the injury prone centre back’s time in Madrid the better.

Real spent £13.4 million on Woodgate when signing him from Newcastle United in 2004 - but where do we start?

Los Blancos signed him injured, so he didn’t make his debut for over a year and when he did it was a disaster. He was not only sent off, but he also scored an own goal against Athletic Bilbao.

He did have a very small period of success in 2006, but overall he played just 14 times for Real in his two years at the Bernabeu - before returning home with a move to Middlesbrough in 2006.

Stan Collymore - Real Oviedo

The former Liverpool stars light was already fading when he touched down in Oviedo in front of 1,500 fans in 2001 - and it never really got off the ground in Spain.

He suffered with his fitness at the club while his continued battles with his mental health were also a contributory factor to his downfall.

34 days after signing for the club he retired from professional football - thus starting a legal battle between the club and player that dragged on until 2006.

Mark Hughes - Barcelona

Now I considered Michael Owen’s spell at Real Madrid, but he was never really given a chance at the club. Considering he had the best goals per-minute ratio in the league he was effectively their Gonzalo Higuain - so calling him a flop seemed harsh.

But seeing as Stoichkov is not clued up on geographical boundaries of the UK I will instead use a Welshman as my fourth player.

Mark Hughes joined Barcelona in a shock move from Manchester United in 1986.

Viewed by Terry Venables as the perfect strike partner for Gary Lineker, things did not go to plan.

He struggled for form in Spain and after just one season was loaned to Bayern Munich, before returning to United in 1988.

Who else can you think of who flopped in Spain?

image: © wonker

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