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Luis Figo reflects on transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid: “It was and is history”



Photo by Robert Hradil/Getty Images

Perhaps the most controversial transfer in football history remains Luis Figo’s switch from Barcelona to arch-rivals Real Madrid back in 2000.

With the move still being the most talked about aspect of the Portuguese great’s career, he has admitted that he would rather fans and pundits discussed his illustrious career in its entirety.

“I’d like more value given to my whole career than one episode that marks an age and altered the market, the philosophy of football. It was and is history,” he told The Guardian in an interview.

Figo insisted that the transfer was not his decision, saying: “The person who decides if I’m going or not is me.”

He also highlighted the role of his then-agent Jose Veiga in the transfer, who had already signed a legally-binding agreement with Real Madrid and backing out of it would have resulted in a €30 million penalty.

“Only I could save them, by going to Madrid. It was the only way to fix it. I was very calm about my own position although at the same time I had a [duty of] care for those working with me.”

Talking about leaving Barcelona for Real Madrid, the 2000 Ballon d’Or winner added:

“I had everything in Barcelona, but you think: ‘It’s not like I’m going to a second-rate club.’ If it hadn’t been Madrid, maybe I wouldn’t have gone. It’s a challenge, a decision based on feeling valued, convincing me I was going to be an extremely important piece.”

“It could have been a cagada, a cock-up, but it wasn’t, thank God,” the former Portugal international said, relieved that his move to Real Madrid was a success.

On the pressure that came with the transfer, Figo added: “It felt like I was doing a press conference every day. That takes its toll. We were starting to tour, a new idea, there was the rivalry, the pressure, the price.”

The ex-Inter Milan attacker also gave an insight into his mentality at the time by saying. “That’s my personality. I coped with the pressure; it kept me alert. I’ve always had that competitiveness, that ‘blood’: you want to win, win, win.”

Figo’s arrival in 2000 sparked the start of the Galactico era at Real Madrid as Florentino Perez then went on to recruit other superstars of the game like Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham, among others.

On being a part of one of the biggest moments in club history, Figo said: “Maybe I was the pioneer of a new project, but not the club. There was an expectation. I knew the president’s ideas. At that stage, we talked a lot. I was his promise, his ‘insignia’. I didn’t always know who was coming but I knew the plan.”

Figo also lifted the lid on life inside the Real Madrid dressing room and praised then-manager Vicente del Bosque’s management skills, saying: “Managing 25 egos is the hardest thing in the world. It’s not about imposing, all ‘argh, argh’, like a child, he (Vicente del Bosque) understood.

“There were egos, there are always egos, but there were great professionals who wanted to compete, win, who respected each other’s space. If everyone’s like, ‘No, I’m the world’s best, you run’, it’s chaos. We had a good atmosphere.”

Having made the move from Barcelona, Figo went on to play 245 times for Real Madrid, scoring 57 goals and setting up 92 more. He left the club five years later to sign for Inter Milan, where he spent four seasons before retiring.

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Real Madrid News

€40 million midfielder prefers a move to Real Madrid over Premier League clubs – report



The race for Jude Bellingham has become tightly contested in recent weeks. Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid all pursue the Borussia Dortmund star closely and hope to win his signing come June.

Given the heavy competition, it is natural that the clubs have alternative names on their tables. One such name on the radars of the aforementioned clubs is Celta Vigo’s Gabri Veiga.

The La Liga midfielder has offers from the Premier League for the summer. However, SER reports that the player has asked Real Madrid if they will match the offer from England and has displayed his interest in joining the club.

Veiga’s release clause with Celta Vigo is valued at €40 million. If the Merengues can match such a valuation, either through direct means or player exchanges, the young phenom will don white next season.

Real Madrid have followed Veiga’s profile for a while now and have made their interest in his signing known to his environment. Yet, the Spanish outlet also adds that Veiga’s potential arrival in June would not close the doors for Jude Bellingham’s signing.

Rafa Marin of Real Madrid Castilla is a player who interests Celta Vigo, and unsurprisingly is one of the names on Los Blancos’ table to utilise in a swap deal for Veiga. Yet, it is safe to say that talks of a player exchange are in a rudimentary stage.

The 20-year-old Spanish phenom has lit up La Liga this season. In 25 appearances for Celta Vigo this season, he has scored nine goals and provided three assists. He averages close to one key pass per game and has created five big chances in his league campaign.

With Los Blancos unwilling to let go of Bellingham’s pursuit irrespective of Veiga’s signing, the question will boil down to the financial leeway the Merengues have and whether they can afford to shell out €40 million in addition to the Englishman’s fee.

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