The Mad-got-rid curse

Struggles of Arsenal and Manchester United stars show the jinx of Real Madrid outcasts in the Premier League.


What costs more than £100million, goes off the boil quicker than a dodgy kettle, and scores more column inches than goals?

Two underwhelming Galacticos, the latest examples of the curse of Real Madrid over the Premier League.

Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria's woes in England have been well documented, each becoming a ready-made scapegoat for their sides' disgruntled support.

But, as club record signings - whose sales effectively funded Madrid's purchase of Gareth Bale, so decisive in the Champions League final last May - both have fallen short of expectations, as Gary Neville highlighted this week in the Telegraph.

Ozil, finally, after 18 months at The Emirates, seems to be getting it, with his form improving since returning from injury in January, but still remains a divisive figures among fans of the Gunners.

Di Maria's journey has been the opposite, making a flying start to life at Old Trafford, before disintegrating alarmingly - Louis Van Gaal hauling him off after an hour of the hard-fought victory over Newcastle in the week.

If it wasn't for Falcao's best-worst efforts, the Argentine would be held up as the reason for United's unconvincing displays this term.

Each player's unfortunate transformation has been exacerbated by the successes of players coming to England from Barcelona - most notably Alexis Sanchez alongside Ozil at Arsenal, and Cesc Fabregas at Chelsea.

But it's a well trodden reputation path from mercurial at Madrid to past-it and pricey in the Prem.

Even Abu Dhabi United Group, who have done so much to completely reinvent the history of Manchester City, have fallen foul.

When they wanted to mark their arrival in the Premier League with a statement signing who would deliver stellar performances to set the tone for their visions of future success, they quite understandably turned to a Real Madrid mega-star.

Except the club record capture of Robinho, for £32.5million, proved to be one of the biggest flops in Premier League history.

He went from Luis Figo successor and main man - this was pre-Cristiano Ronaldo era in Madrid, remember, a simpler time - to misfiring flop, despite a promising start.

After top-scoring in his debut campaign at City, with a fairly modest 14 goals given his price tag, the Brazilian lost all traces of Galactico, scoring just one in 12 before being off-loaded to Santos after less than a year-and-a-half in Manchester.

And he's never been the same player since.

Perhaps the best example of the curse is Michael Owen, who only spent a single season at the Bernabeu.

Before going to Spain, he had been Liverpool's top scorer for six successive seasons, poaching 158 goals in 297 games.

After returning from Real Madrid, he mustered 48 goals across eight seasons.

Fernando Morientes arrived at Liverpool as a player considered too good to be let go by Madrid, until he huffed and puffed his way to just three goals in his first season, before being moved on the following summer.

Similarly, Julio Baptista lasted just a season at Arsenal before being shipped back to Los Merengues, where he promptly - and quite incredibly - established himself as first-choice central midfielder.

Aside from Claude Makelele's role-defining switch to Chelsea in 2003, it hasn't worked well when English clubs go shopping in Madrid - it has only paid for Real.

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