Many of you will be used to seeing Jose Mourinho on your screen for the pre-match and post-match analysis of a big game, but back in the day, the recent star of Paddy Power adverts was actually quite a successful manager himself.
Mourinho shot to prominence as a young boss in the early 2000’s at Porto, where he won the Champions League, before labelling himself the ‘special one’ upon being appointed by a free-spending Chelsea side.
Further success arrived at Inter Milan, where Mourinho won a historic treble in 2010, but following that success he left Inter for arguably the biggest job of all, Real Madrid. It’s difficult to assess Jose’s time at the Bernabeu. On the one hand, the club only won one La Liga title and failed to win the Champions League. On the other, he was up against a Barcelona side almost without peer in the sports history, and that one La Liga title perhaps deserves a little more credit than it gets.
Anyhow, I recently took a look at Pep Guardiola’s first 7 Barcelona signings which went down a treat, so today, here are Jose Mourinho’s first 7 Real Madrid signings: Where are they now?
7. Sergio Canales – Real Betis
Before I start I should point out that loan moves and players being promoted from Real Madrid Castilla aren’t counted, only full permanent signings from other clubs. Jose’s first signing during his first summer in charge was teenage midfielder Sergio Canales. The 19-year-old had just had his breakout season at Racing Santander, and Real forked out €4.5 million on the youngster. He made 15 appearances in his first season with the club, was loaned out to Valencia in his second and sold to Valencia on a permanent deal in 2012. A move to Real Sociedad followed, where Canales rebuilt his career, and he has impressed since joining Real Betis on a free in 2018. Canales won his first two caps for Spain this year, aged 28.
6. Angel Di Maria – PSG
Mourinho’s first real marquee signing at Real, Angel Di Maria arrived at the Bernabeu for an upfront fee of €25 million, plus a potential €11 million in add-ons. The Argentinian had impressed the previous season for Benfica, and the then 22-year-old played in all five of Argentina’s fixtures at the 2010 World Cup. Di Maria proved to be a masterstroke of a signing for Real, and though the arrival of Gareth Bale was expected to see his opportunities limited, Carlo Ancelotti found home for the former Rosario Central man in the centre of his midfield. It was there that Di Maria had his best and last season at Real, winning the Man of the Match award in the final as Real won the Champions League and starring for Argentina as they reached a World Cup final just months apart. Di Maria left Real immediately after those two achievements to spend a season at Manchester United before joining current club PSG.
5. Pedro Leon – Eibar
Another young wide player who Jose Mourinho signed in his first summer in charge of Real Madrid, Pedro Leon’s move to Real Madrid was the fourth permanent transfer of his career, aged 23. He has had another two since then, leaving Los Blancos after three years contracted to the club in a return to Getafe, before joining Eibar three years later in 2016. Although he was contracted to the club for three years, Leon only spent one in the Real first team, playing 14 times and failing to really build on the impressive season he had at Getafe. Leon recently came out in the press and claimed Mourinho had denied him moves to Chelsea, Man City and AC Milan during his time in the capital, and the uncapped Spaniard is now a regular fixture at Eibar.
4. Sami Khedira – Juventus
An intelligent and industrious central midfielder, it’s no surprise Sami Khedira was a big favourite of Jose Mourinho’s. The German international joined Real under Mourinho from Stuttgart, and he registered 40+ appearances in every one of Jose’s three seasons with the club. He tore his ACL in November 2013, effectively ending his Real career under Carlo Ancelotti but recovering in time to play a major role for Germany as they won the 2014 World Cup. Khedira found another boss who admired his talents in Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus, but has suffered a few injury setbacks and a diagnosis of an irregular heartbeat in recent times. He still had another year and a half left on his contract in Turin.
3. Ricardo Carvalho – Marseille Assistant
Ricardo Carvalho played under Jose Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid, and to be honest, it’s a touch surprising he didn’t try to sign Carvalho at Manchester United after Euro 2016!! Carvalho went on to play one more season with Shanghai SIPG after Euro 2016, before retiring in 2017. A brilliant centre-back at his best, Carvalho only spent one season as a regular at Real, and a further two as a squad rotation option. Now aged 41, Carvalho joined the coaching team at Marseille in the summer as Andre Villas-Boas’ assistant manager.
2. Mesut Ozil – Arsenal
Whilst Sami Khedira fits into the exact mould of a thoughtful, hard working and functional midfielder that we associate with Jose Mourinho, Mesut Ozil is a completely different type of footballer. A mercurial, creative playmaker who doesn’t contribute a great deal off the ball, Ozil still managed to be a big hit under Jose. He made over 150 appearances in Mourinho’s three seasons with the club, topping the La Liga assist charts every season, with an incredible 68 assists across the three campaigns. He left Real in the same summer as Jose, sold to Arsenal for €50 million, when Real had paid just €15 million for him. His time in North London has been much more mixed, showing evidence of why he is nicknamed the ‘Assist King’, but also facing accusations of laziness and of being disinterested.
1. Nuri Sahin – Werder Bremen
Jose Mourinho made six permanent signings in his first season in charge of Real Madrid, meaning the last entry in this seven takes us to his first signing of his second summer in charge of the club. Nuri Sahin was signed for just €10 million having starred for Borussia Dortmund for five seasons, but his first season was blighted by injuries. He joined Liverpool on-loan the following season before sealing a return to Dortmund, where he again struggled with multiple injury setbacks. Sahin left Dortmund in August 2018 in a move to Werder Bremen, and the club recently expressed an interest in extending his deal at the Weserstadion.