Reigning Spanish champions Barcelona will host Real Madrid for the first El Clasico of the season on Saturday afternoon (October 28). Currently, just a solitary point separates league leaders Madrid from third-placed Barca, meaning a win for the hosts could take them to the top of the pile. A victory for Los Blancos, on the other hand, would put daylight between them and their bitterest rivals.
Part of one of the fiercest rivalries in Europe, there is no love lost between Barca and Madrid, with both teams always doing their best to one-up the other. So, generally, when a player commits to one camp they refrain from joining the other, as no one wants to be on the receiving end of the backlash from fans.
There have been a few exceptions, of course, and below, we will take a closer look at them. Now, without further ado, let’s check out the top five players who have played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid:
#5 Michael Laudrup
A part of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team”, Michael Laudrup joined Barcelona from Juventus in July 1989. Over the next five years, Laudrup played his best game under Cruyff, scoring 54 times and providing 17 assists in 226 matches. The former attacking midfielder was arguably Barca’s finest player as they won four La Liga titles in that period.
Laudrup moved to Real Madrid from Barcelona in 1994, but was not as successful in the Spanish capital. He played 76 games before leaving in 1996, scoring 15 times and winning just one La Liga title with the Santiago Bernabeu outfit.
#4 Samuel Eto’o
Samuel Eto’o started his professional journey at Real Madrid, playing frequently for the reserve teams. However, he was not deemed good enough to become a regular in the first team. As a result, he left Madrid permanently for RCD Mallorca in 2000, having played just seven games for the senior team.
Impressed with his stint at Mallorca, Barcelona lapped him up in the summer of 2004, giving Eto’o the opportunity to stretch his wings. Over the next five seasons, the former Cameroon international played 199 games for Barca, scoring 130 goals and providing 40 assists. Eto’o’s exploits propelled Barcelona to three La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions League trophies, amongst others.
#3 Luis Enrique
Before he became one of the biggest names in Barcelona’s history, Luis Enrique spent a good half a decade at Real Madrid. Enrique, who played as a right-midfielder, joined Los Blancos from Sporting Gijon in July 1991. Between 1991 and 1996, he played 213 games in all competitions, scoring 18 times and providing three assists. He won one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey, and one Supercopa de Espana with the All-Whites.
At the end of his contract at Madrid, Enrique joined Barcelona as a free agent. He remained at Camp Nou until hanging up his boots in 2004, scoring 108 goals in 300 games and winning two La Liga titles, two Copas del Rey, and one UEFA Supercup, amongst other honors.
#2 Ronaldo Nazario
Arguably the greatest striker of all time, Ronaldo Nazario plied his trade at both Real Madrid and Barcelona. The former Brazil international joined Barcelona from PSV Eindhoven in July 1996. He only spent one season at Camp Nou before bidding the club adieu, but it was one of the best of his career. Ronaldo played 49 games for the Blaugrana that season, scoring 47 times and providing 13 assists. Shockingly, Barca sold him to Inter Milan in 1997 before he eventually found his way back to Spain with Real Madrid in 2002.
Ronaldo spent five good years at the Bernabeu, scoring 103 goals and providing 35 assists in 177 games. Ronaldo helped the Whites to two La Liga titles and one UEFA Supercup, amongst other honors.
Portugal icon Luis Figo went from being one of the most loved players in Barcelona to the most hated, all because of his shocking switch to Real Madrid in 2000.
Joining Barcelona from Sporting in 1995, Figo emerged as the best player in the world at Camp Nou, scoring 45 goals and claiming 68 assists in 249 games across competitions. His heroics helped Barca to two La Liga titles amongst other honors.
Figo looked destined to remain at Camp Nou for the foreseeable future, but a masterstroke from Los Blancos president Florentino Perez brought him to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in 2000. The Ballon d’Or winner in 2000 achieved even more success in Madrid, winning two La Liga titles and a Champions League trophy with the club before leaving for Inter Milan in 2005. Prior to his switch to Italy, Figo played 245 games for Los Merengues, scoring 57 times and providing 93 assists.