It’s not often that you see players reject moving to Real Madrid, one of the biggest footballing clubs in the world. Real Madrid seemingly has the power to pick the players they want to sign. There aren’t too many who would say no to the Spanish giants considering the brand they have built and the history of the club.
Almost every young footballer dreams of making a move to the Santiago Bernabeu. Many have tried and failed to make the cut and were forced to leave to revitalize their careers somewhere else, just a shadow of their former selves. Others have made their dreams come true in Madrid, but some got the opportunity but decided to turn it down when the Los Blancos came calling for them.
5. Steven Gerrard (Rejected Real Madrid in 2004)
Steven Gerrard is a footballing legend who could not ever be prized out of his boyhood club. An ever-present image of Gerrard manning the Liverpool midfield still shines in supporters’ eyes. The Englishman truly was a sensational player in his prime, capable of doing everything in midfield.
Zinedine Zidane suggested Real Madrid to go after him in 2004. Gerrard refused their offer and went on to lead Liverpool to a Champions League triumph the next year defeating AC Milan in an event called the “Miracle of Istanbul”.
In 2010, Madrid came in with another lucrative deal but Gerrard decided to stay and fight for the Reds. While his trophy cabinet is not as crowded as some other players, he is still regarded as one of the best English footballers to ever play.
4. Neymar Jr (Rejected Real Madrid in 2013)
He may have been out of form for close to 3 years now at PSG in France, but if it were not for Neymar, Barcelona would not have regained their dominant best after Pep Guardiola’s departure. The Brazilian was the hottest prospect in 2012/13, lighting up the domestic league with his astonishing skills.
Real wanted to sign him when he was just 13. As he developed to exactly what they had hoped of him, they leveled up their interest in him in 2013. Neymar was being showered with offers from every corner of the world but only two clubs realistically had a chance of signing him – Barcelona and Real Madrid.
After a lengthy bidding war, Barca won his signature purely based on footballing reasons after Tito Vilanova, the then Barcelona manager personally spoke to him.
3. Gianluigi Buffon (Rejected Real Madrid in 2006)
When Juventus were relegated to Serie B in 2006 following the Calciopoli scandal, many top players from the club made the move to other teams including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Fabio Cannavaro, and Emerson.
Gianluigi Buffon was considered to be the top goalkeeper in the world at the time, and also had the chance to join the biggest club in the world when Real Madrid inquired about his availability.
While Juventus left the decision to him, Buffon opted to remain with his club through the rough times – leading them to get back on track as they were promoted back to Serie A the following season.
2. Francesco Totti (Rejected Real Madrid multiple times)
Francesco Totti has the unique distinction of having rejected both Barcelona and Real Madrid in his prime years. Although he has openly admitted that he would have only left Roma for Madrid, he decided to remain with his beloved club despite some lucrative offers. Madrid attempted to sign him on three different occasions with Florentino Perez listing Totti as his dream signing – but it never materialized.
A move to the biggest club in the world would have guaranteed many more trophies for someone as great as Totti, as well as potentially some Ballon D’Or awards that he missed out on due to his loyalty to Roma. He even had an interview with Sky Italia back in 2012 when he spoke about why he rejected a move to Real Madrid.
“I think I earned the contract that has been drawn up for me because I always fought for what I have. I never thought about money, otherwise, I would have left aged 26 when Real Madrid and Barcelona wanted me.”
“I would’ve earned double what I am picking up now. I always wanted to make my career with the Giallorossi jersey, and nobody will ever again refuse the money I did from Madrid and Barcelona. It was a choice made with the heart, and for that alone, I want some respect,” he concluded
1. Kylian Mbappe (Rejected Real Madrid in 2017 and 2022)
In the summer of 2017, Madrid came knocking on the doors of Monaco for Kylian Mbappe. The teenager had a sensational season in Ligue 1 where he scored 15 goals and provided eight assists. It was widely reported that the two clubs have agreed in principle for the transfer of Mbappe, a deal worth €160m, plus a further €20m in objectives.
However, he turned down the offer and joined PSG. During his presentation as a PSG player, Mbappe explained why he chose the Paris-based club over Madrid and Manchester City, who also joined the race later on to sign him.
“I felt that at PSG, I would have more opportunities to play than at Real Madrid,” he said. He also revealed that he declined an offer from Manchester City.
Now, in 2022, he has again rejected Los Blancos after making it appear that he would sign with them for the past 2 years. He kept Real Madrid on his whims and made them lose out on their other target, Erling Haaland, who left for Manchester City for 60 million pounds.
He rejected Madrid after PSG reportedly made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, an annual salary of approximately 50 million pounds, and a position of power in the PSG administration.