Ronaldo. Raul. Zinedine Zidane. Roberto Carlos. Iker Casillas. Sergio Ramos. Cristiano Ronaldo. The list of modern-day Real Madrid legends is endless, but which current stars have the potential to join them?
Los Blancos are having another superb season, both domestically and in Europe. They currently sit top of La Liga, a whopping 15 points ahead of rivals Barcelona, who occupy second spot.
And the Spanish giants are flying high in the Champions League once again, and are now into the semi-finals after knocking out Chelsea and PSG in recent rounds.
Much credit must go to tactician Carlo Ancelotti, but also to the hugely talented squad, which involves a mixture of older, more experienced players, and young superstars ready to take on the world.
But which of the current group will one day go on to call themselves a Real Madrid legend?
With four Champions League victories in the last decade, Real Madrid have been one of the most formidable forces in recent times. Importantly, a handful of players involved in many of those finals are not only still with the club, but continue to perform at the very highest level.
That is particularly relevant to phenomenal midfield trio Luka Modric, Casemiro, and Toni Kroos. The three stars are still ever-present at the centre of the Bernabeu pitch, pulling the strings and calling all the shots under Ancelotti. They will all unquestionably go down as Real Madrid legends.
Super striker Karim Benzema is, of course, also already on the legendary list. The lethal forward has been in scintillating form this season, and at 34, is showing no signs of slowing down.
He boasts a stunning total of 39 goals from 40 matches in all competitions this season. It brings his overall total for the club to 318 goals from 599 games. It’s a sensational record, and his efforts in front of goal have deservedly earned him legendary status in the Spanish capital.
And he can most certainly be joined by left-back Marcelo. The Brazilian needs no introduction, and is still going strong for the club at the age of 33. His displays over the years have ensured his name will be remembered in Madrid long into the future.
Right-back Dani Carvajal may also warrant such status given his contributions in white for almost a decade. During his 325 matches for the club, he’s won two La Liga titles along with countless other trophies, as well as playing in all four Champions League final victories in recent years.
Vinicius Junior is perhaps the leading contender to go on to become a Real Madrid legend. At just 21, he has taken the world by storm this season. In all competitions, he has 17 goals and 18 assists to his name.
The Brazilian is second only to Courtois for Madrid appearances this season, proving just how important he is for Ancelotti. It’s never easy to live up to previous Madrid attackers, but the young winger hasn’t put a foot wrong thus far.
Vinicius Junior may be closely followed by talented youngster Federico Valverde. The versatile Uruguayan is rapidly becoming a key player under Ancelotti, being utilised in midfield and out wide in recent months.
Also on the contenders’ list is centre-back Eder Militao. The Brazilian has the third most appearances for Madrid this season, and has been a crucial player in the club’s search for the league and Champions League double.
Youngsters Rodrygo and Eduardo Camavinga will also want a place in the legend’s list, as will more experienced players Marco Asensio and Isco. The former has slowly fought his way back into the first team, and the latter – while not so important lately – started two of those four Champions League finals, and came off the bench in the other two.
The definitely nots
For a handful of reasons, things just haven’t worked out for Eden Hazard at Real Madrid. The winger is undoubtedly a Chelsea legend, but he definitely won’t be handed the same title at his current club.
He had the world at his feet in London, but hasn’t managed to even stabilise himself in Madrid, let alone conquer it. His future in white remains uncertain, and it may be best for both parties if he makes a swift exit and puts the bad memories behind him.
Perhaps his former Chelsea colleague Courtois shouldn’t be ruled out, but the goalkeeper certainly doesn’t have as much love as ex-shot stopper Casillas. The Belgian has been with the club for four years now, but he wasn’t always the number one choice between the sticks.
He’s won just one league title during his time at the Bernabeu, while his spell at rivals Atletico undoubtedly hasn’t helped his relationship with Real supporters. He also won a league title in red and white, as well as the Copa del Rey and the Europa League.
Is Gareth Bale a Real Madrid legend?
The inimitable Gareth Bale has had an incredible career with the Spanish giants, in every sense of the word. He has won just about every trophy there is to win at Madrid, yet is somehow still regarded as an outsider.
The debate around his legendary status at the club is one for the ages, with the footballing world divided regarding whether or not he will join the likes of Ronaldo and Co. in etching his name into Madrid folklore.
His future in Spain remains up in the air, with much talk about his private life often getting in the way of a once-promising spell in La Liga. Injuries, however, have been the main reason for his lack of game time over the years.
But it hasn’t stopped the forward from becoming a crucial player in several huge games for the Spanish outfit. He’s lifted two La Liga trophies, one Copa del Rey, and the small matter of four Champions Leagues, one of which he picked up the Man of the Match award for his stunning cameo off the bench.
He’s played over 250 matches for Los Blancos, scoring over 100 goals. But somehow – for many locals anyway – it isn’t enough to secure legendary status.