Arsene Wenger really might want to hang outside the Bernabeu and waylay the Real Madrid rejects because all indications are that they have proven to be a goldmine for their new clubs.
These players had no place in Florentino Perez's Galacticos 2.0 version and were cast aside almost contemptuously to make way for record breaking signings like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso, and Raul Albiol.
So in retrospect, with Real's trophy cupboard bare this season- losing out on the Liga, crashing out of the Copa Del Rey, and bombing in the Champions League, will the departures of any of these players cause Perez heartburn?
Arjen Robben: Grade: A+
If Bayern needed shock therapy, they could not have asked for a better player than Robben. He defines clutch. He defines spectacular. When they wanted a goal, there was Robben. He sank Man Utd in the Champions League and silenced Old Trafford in an iconic moment
With Ribery in tow, the two have electrified the stale Bayern attack making it a club that everyone wants to watch. He has become a fan favourite with his familiar jinking style bringing the ball to his preferred left foot and then lashing spectacular long range shots.
16 goals in 24 matches is the first time in seven years that Robben hit two digits and more than what he scored combined in the two seasons at Real. He has won the Bundesliga, the German Cup, and in a shining moment will return to the Bernabeu on Saturday to contest the Champions League final against Inter. The 25 million euros spent were worth every penny.
You bet Florentino Perez will feel a dagger of intense regret ripping through his chest.
Wesley Sneijder: Grade A +
Two Real Madrid rejects stand against each other on Saturday, vying with one another to wear the mantle of the reject that causes Florentino Perez most regret. Yes, Wesley Sneijder too returns to the Bernabeu as Inter take on Bayern and he will meet Robben, his former team mate.
Mourinho had correctly identified the midfield lacuna in Inter's game before this season. Their premature European exits were attributable to a lack of link up between the midfield and the attack. He got his man when Real walked Sneijder out of the Bernabeu through the back door. It cost Inter 15 million euros but that has proved to be a bargain.
With Sneijder, there was someone who finally controlled the pace and flow of the game leaving Eto'o, Pandev, and Milito with less to do individually. Sneijder could pull of a sublime pass and sink the opposition with his wickedly curling free kicks. Sneijder's set pieces brought Inter back from the brink against Siena. With him at the helm, Inter team has won the Serie, the Coppa Italia, and now stands on the brink of adding the Champions League.
Gabriel Heinze: Grade A+
Gabriel Heinze is one of those players who have reinvented themselves. After some great seasons he was slowed down by injury and loss of form, eventually losing out to Patrice Evra at Man Utd. He then left Old Trafford in disgrace because of his declared intention to join Liverpool. He was picked up by Real and although he did decently in his two seasons, he was again edged out by Brazil's U21 standout, Marcelo. His old club, PSG spurned his services as they were more interested in developing Mamadou Sakho.
Heinze was finally picked by Marseille for an undisclosed fee. Since joining L'OM he has become an integral part of the back line scoring a number of important goals, none more memorable than the one scored against Rennes on May 5th, a win which gave them the Championnat after 16 years. Heinze was one of the top scoring defenders in the Ligue and with Taye Taiwo, Souleymane Diawara, and Laurent Bonnart gave away just 36 goals, the second best in the Ligue.
Javier Saviola: Grade A+
The former U20 World Cup phenomenon was a Real Madrid failure. His appearances were severely curtailed to cup appearances and an occasional Liga match. With the arrival of Klaas Jan Huntelaar, his appearances dried up further in his second year. In two seasons, he managed a total of 28 appearances scoring 5 goals.
He was transferred without ceremony to Benfica for 5 millions euros. At SLB, he formed a potent attacking partnership with Paraguayan Oscar Cardozo, playing just behind him as the slot striker. With his pace and ball control, El Conejo scored 11 goals, complementing Cardozo's top scoring 26 goals very nicely and leading Benfica to their first Portugese title in five years. Everton fans will remember him when he scored two goals in a 5-0 thrashing at Benfica in the Europa Cup. In all, he scored 19 goals and established himself as a fan favourite.
Javier Garcia: Grade A
A product of the Real Madrid cantera, Garcia never settled down in the senior squad being sent off to Osasuna where he established himself as a tough holding midfielder. He came back to Real for another two years from 2007 to 2009, and was Mahamadou Diarra's understudy, getting enough appearances but once again not cracking the starting spot.
He was sold to Benfica for 7 million euros and since then has become an integral part of the Benfica midfield diamond with Angel Di Maria out on the left, playmaker Pablo Aimar sitting on top, Brazilian workhorse Ramires down the right, and Garcia sitting deep.
Alvaro Negredo: Grade B
Negredo rose up from the ranks in Real Madrid B and caught the eye of Fabio Capello but never played a match for Real, staying on the bench. Negredo is another example of Real Madrid's famed cantera providing diminishing returns for their own homegrown talent as the club trolls for more expensive talent outside Spain's shores. He was given out to Almeria where he did very well and then returned back to Real. He was rumoured to join Hull City or Real Zaragoza but the deals fell through.
Once again, he was shipped off this time to Sevilla on a two year contract worth 15 million euros. Negredo eventually supplanted Frederic Kanoute but his form was erratic going through spells of not scoring. But his best two games were against Valencia and Altletico Madrid, scoring a brace each which helped propel the club to an eventual fourth place in the Liga and the final CL spot. Negredo ended the season with 11 goals in 25 appearances and with Luis Fabiano and Kanoute managed to score 65 goals, third best in the Liga but streets behind Real and Barcelona.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar: Grade D
The career of Huntelaar has been a story of a downward spiral since leaving Ajax where his exploits were legend.
He was a scoring machine when he came to Real in January 2009 on a hefty signing fee potentially worth 27 million euros with its clauses. By all accounts he did well enough, scoring 8 goals in 20 appearances but well off his Ajax pace with 76 goals scored in just 92 appearances.
He became surplus with the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema and was then transferred out to Milan for 15 million euros. Huntelaar was to bolster Alexandre Pato and with Ronaldinho give the Milan attack teeth after losing Kaka. However, those killer instincts in front of goal deserted him in a big way. The first half of the season was especially brutal- rumours were that Huntelaar would not last a season.
None hurt more than the night when Man Utd beat Milan for the first time at the San Siro in the Champions League. Huntelaar left to a chorus of boos as he was subbed by Inzaghi. It was left to Marco Van Basten to defend him.
In 24 appearances, Huntelaar has scored 7 goals. With his failure to make an impact, Pato also struggling, it has been Marco Boriello, an aging journeyman striker filling the void. Not what Milan needed.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy: Grade B
Which brings us back to the Real Madrid player who had the most impact at the club of the whole transfer group, winning the Pichichi with 25 goals in his first year and guiding Real and Bernd Schuster to the 2007 Liga title, in one of the tightest races. Despite ankle surgery and then knee ligament surgery curtailing his next two seasons, Nistelrooy kept up his phenomenal output.
It is a testimony to his prodigious goalscoring, that a club like Real with few qualms waited for him to get better and even tried accommodating him even as Kaka, Benzema, and Cristiano Ronaldo landed up. By now Van Nistelrooy was already desirous for a transfer.
He became Real's 15th transfer, joining Hamburg on a free in the winter transfer and in this brief spell managed to score 5 goals in 10 appearances. This includes a brace against Stuttgart in the 75th and 77th minute of a 3-1 win. At that time Hamburg seemed to be holding firm to the final CL spot before falling off to the 7th place. A good solid start for RVN.
There are other transfers.
Getafe rebuilt its defense with goalkeeper Jorge Codina, central defender Miguel Torres, and highly rated holding midfielder Daniel Parejo. They finished sixth in the Liga and booked a passage to the Europa Cup. Grade B
Blackburn got Michel Salgado, who appears to be a perfect fit for a club known for its aggressive style of defending. He played an important part in intimidating Lukasz Fabianski in Blackburn's demoralizing defeat of Arsenal. Boss Sam Allardyce is reported to be satisfied with the performance of Salgado, a player who built a reputation in the Liga for his robust tackling. Salgado has indicated that the Premiership will be his last stop. Grade B
There were some flashes of Alberto Bueno when Real Valladolid got hammered into relegation by Barca on the last day. Overall, he seems to have made little impact. Grade C-
Fabio Cannavaro got the ball rolling on the players leaving, as Juventus wanted him back after three seasons at Real. He is not the force that he was four years ago when he won the FIFA World Cup player of the year with his stint at Juventus and Real. But Cannavaro has built a decent central partnership with Giorgio Cheillini while the rest of Juve fell off the perch. Grade B
Julien Faubert had quite a siesta at Real Madrid, virtually nodding off to sleep on the bench while Real waged a comeback against Villareal which they ultimately lost, conceding the 2009 Liga title to Barca. Two appearances is all he had to show for his surprise arrival in January 2009. Back again at West Ham and it could not have been more different as Faubert had some excellent performances. If there was a highlight it was his perfect whipping cross finding Ilan for the equalizer against Everton. Grade B
In all, most clubs benefited from Real Madrid's rejects. Nine titles is quite an impressive tally.