How Juventus made the most of losing the best player in the world Zidane to Real Madrid

Martin Macdonald
How Juventus made the most of losing the best player in the world Zidane to Real Madrid

In 2001, Real Madrid broke the world transfer record to sign Zinedine Zidane from Juventus for €77.5 million, making him the most expensive player in the history of football at the time.

The season before, they had broke the transfer record to sign Luis Figo from arch-rivals Barcelona, as president Florentino Perez started his famous ‘Galactico’ strategy by recruiting the world’s best and most marketable players – whatever the cost.

READ MORE: How dumping Robinho to Man City for €42m was good business for Real Madrid

The acquisition of Zidane was seen as somewhat as a seismic shift in football transfers as not only were Los Blancos recruiting one of, if not the best player in the world at the time, it proved that every player and every team indeed has a price.

How did Zidane’s move work out for Real Madrid?

Even though Perez’s first Galactico era did not result in as many trophies as the Madrid president would have hoped for, he still got what he wanted on the pitch – a dream team of superstars lighting up the Santiago Bernabeu.

Zidane was the creator-in-chief of this team and even after the likes of David Beckham and Ronaldo arrived, he was always the main man.

With Real Madrid, Zidane would only win three major trophies in one La Liga, one Champions League and one Intercontinental Cup.

But his legacy would indeed be as one of the most gifted, graceful players ever to play the game.

He achieved the pinnacle of his club career with Real Madrid when he scored the winning goal in the 2002 Champions League final.

With the game against Bayer Leverkusen locked 1-1 at Hampden, Zidane produced one of the greatest goals in the history of the European Cup as he kept his eye on a lofted pass high into the air from Roberto Carlos to perfectly catch a left-footed volley into the top left corner.

Fast-forwarding a couple of decades from the original move, and Zidane is now the head coach at Real Madrid, having led them to three Champions League victories in a row between 2016 and 2018.

If it wasn’t for the Frenchman’s original move, he wouldn’t have led them to glory as a player and now as a head coach.

How did Zidane’s move work out for Juventus?

Though Juventus were undoubtedly losing a remarkable player, at that time the money they received for the World Cup winner was a game changer, as they were able to bolster their squad with remarkable quality using the funds gained.

Though Filippo Inzaghi was sold for big money too, the sale of Zidane helped Juve to sign Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram, Pavel Nedved, Marcelo Salas and Cristian Zenoni.

The first three players in that group would go on to become legendary figures at the club, helping them to two consecutive Serie A titles after Zidane left.

Buffon, of course, is still there, even after a short holiday to Paris Saint-Germain.

European glory would evade the Bianconeri following Zidane’s departure, but the talent they were able to bring in makes for a good piece of business.

A handful of years after Zidane’s exit, Juventus would be forced to rebuild after being demoted to Serie B in the Calciopoli scandal.