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Bellingham next? Every Englishman to play for Real Madrid

Real Madrid are understood to be close to winning the race to sign Jude Bellingham this summer, with the Spanish giants nearing a deal for the England midfielder.

Carlo Ancelotti has made the signing of Bellingham a priority this summer as Real Madrid look to rebuild their midfield for the long-term and the European champions look set to beat off competition from the Premier League for his signature.

Bellingham could become just the sixth Englishman to represent Real Madrid and ahead of his potential move to the Bernabeu, we’ve looked back at the club’s previous English additions.

Laurie Cunningham, 1979-1984

Laurie Cunningham became the first English player to play for Real Madrid having impressed the Spanish side with his performances for West Brom in Europe.

Real Madrid spent £950,000 to sign the left winger in 1979 and Cunningham made an immediate impact in Spanish football, as he scored 12 goals during his debut season as Los Blancos won a La Liga and Copa del Rey double.

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He memorably received a standing ovation from the Barcelona supporters during a 2-0 El Clásico win at the Camp Nou in 1980, with the club’s arch-rivals applauding Cunningham for a man-of-the-match performance in Catalonia.

Cunningham impressed with his exciting and elaborate brand of football on the flank, but saw his latter career with the club decimated by injuries. Loan spells at Manchester United and Sporting Gijon followed as he fell out of favour, before a permanent move to Marseille in 1984. He made 66 appearances for Real Madrid and scored 20 goals.

Cunningham later died, aged just 33, in a car crash in Madrid while playing for Rayo Vallecano.

Steve McManaman, 1999-2003

Liverpool’s decline during the first decade of the Premier League era saw Steve McManaman decide on a new challenge.

McManaman signed for Real Madrid on a free transfer when his contract at Liverpool expired and soon became one of British football’s best exports. The midfielder won two La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies during a decorated spell in Spanish football, in addition to UEFA Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup titles.

McManaman’s first season in Spain ended in dream fashion, as he scored a sublime scissor-kick in the club’s Champions League final win over Valencia. Named man-of-the-match in Paris, he became the first Englishman to win the competition with a non-English club.

He became a popular figure at the Bernabeu during the club’s Galacticos era, featuring alongside superstars in Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul and Ronaldo. McManaman won a second Champions League winners’ medal in 2002, as Real Madrid beat Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park.

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David Beckham, 2003-2007

David Beckham became the latest prized possession in Real Madrid’s remarkable recruitment drive during the early noughties, as the England captain became a ‘Galactico’ in 2003.

Beckham had won six Premier League titles during an illustrious career at Manchester United, one which had seen the midfielder shine as the division’s best creative force. Brand Beckham was arguably as attractive as his undeniable talent for Real Madrid – a side steeped in glitz and glamour – who wanted a part of it.

The Spanish supporters warmed to Beckham despite limited success on the pitch, with the midfielder’s relentless work-rate, set-piece threat and passing range impressing. Beckham made 155 appearances for Real Madrid across four seasons and won the La Liga title during his final season.

Having been frozen out by Fabio Capello amid his decision to leave for Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the season, Beckham’s application saw him regain favour and he played a prominent part in the club’s 2006/07 title success.

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Michael Owen, 2004-2005

Michael Owen arrived at Real Madrid from Liverpool in the summer of 2004, as England’s leading centre-forward joined compatriot Beckham at the Bernabeu.

Owen had scored 158 goals in 297 games for Liverpool in all competitions and arrived in Spain having become just the fourth Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or three years earlier, after Stanley Matthews, Bobby Charlton and Kevin Keegan.

He signed for a fee of just £8m and Antonio Núñez in part-exchange, as Real Madrid capitalised on his contract situation to secure Owen in a cut-price deal.

Owen impressed during a single season in Spain, but struggled to cement himself as an automatic starter due to the presence of Raul and Ronaldo. He scored 13 league goals – including Real Madrid’s fourth in a 4–2 win over Barcelona – and ended the season with the best minutes-per-goals ratio in the squad.

However, the arrivals of Robinho and Julio Baptista the following season saw Owen deemed surplus to requirements and he returned to the Premier League to sign for Newcastle in a £17m club-record deal.

Jonathan Woodgate, 2004-2007

Jonathan Woodgate joined Beckham and Owen to make it a trio of Englishman in the Real Madrid squad ahead of the 2004/05 campaign, after the Spaniards signed the centre-back in a £13.4 million deal from Newcastle.

Woodgate endured a nightmare start to his career with the club and missed the entirety of his first season through injury, before marking his debut for the side with an own goal and red card against Athletic Bilbao.

The central defender’s fortunes failed to significantly improve and he made just 14 appearances for Real Madrid during the 2005/06 season. He was allowed to leave that summer and signed on loan for hometown club Middlesbrough.

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