Six of the most successful Premier League to La Liga transfers

La Liga’s leading sides have long looked to the Premier League for top talent, with a series of English football’s biggest stars having shone since making the switch to Spain.

The likes of Eden Hazard and Kieran Trippier are amongst the high profile names to have made the switch this summer, but which Premier League exports have performed the best?

Here are six of the most successful Premier League to La Liga transfers…


Steve McManaman

Having grown frustrated with Liverpool’s inability to compete during a transitional era, hometown hero Steve McManaman departed Anfield on a Bosman free transfer in 1999.

The England international would head for the Bernabeu, where he would play alongside a host of ‘Galacticos’ during a four-year spell at Real Madrid.

The winger would cap his first season by scoring a stunning goal in the 2000 Champions League final, becoming the first English player to win the trophy with a foreign club.

Two years later, he was part of the Madrid side who were crowned champions of Europe for a second time, whilst he also won two La Liga titles during his time in Spain.

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Diego Forlan

The Uruguyan’s Manchester United career never really took off, but he became one of Europe’s most feared forwards after a switch to Spain in 2004.

After scoring just 10 league goals in three seasons at Old Trafford, Forlan would mark his debut season at Villarreal by winning the Pichichi trophy as the division’s top scorer, whilst also being named the joint winner of the European Golden Shoe alongside Arsenal’s Thierry Henry.

A tally of 54 goals in just 106 La Liga appearances earned Forlan a move to Atletico Madrid, where he would continue to score at a prolific rate.

Forlan would win a Pichichi and European Golden Shoe double again in 2008/09, the forward having hit 32 goals in just 33 La Liga appearances.

He would leave Atletico for Inter Milan in 2011, having scored 96 goals in 196 appearances and won the Europa League during his time in the Spanish capital.

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Undoubtedly the best player to have swapped the Premier League for La Liga, Ronaldo established himself as one of football’s all-time greats after joining Real Madrid in a world-record £80m deal from Manchester United in 2009.

In nine seasons at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo won 15 major honours including winning La Liga twice and four Champions League titles.

The Portuguese superstar would set individual records tumbling with his goalscoring exploits, replacing Raul as Real Madrid’s all-time record scorer after hitting a barely believable 451 goals in just 438 appearances.

He would add four Ballon d’Or’s to the one he won at Old Trafford, a record total of five he shares with Lionel Messi, whilst he also became the highest scorer in the history of the Champions League.

He left for Juventus in 2018, cemented as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

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Luka Modric

The man to finally end the Ballon d’Or duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the Croatian midfielder has been a fundamental part of the Real Madrid midfield since his switch from Tottenham in 2012.

The deep-lying playmaker and heartbeat behind the Spanish side’s recent successes, Modric has won four Champions League titles at the Bernabeu including three consecutive trophies between 2016 and 2018.

Technically superb, Modric is able to influence and control games at the highest level and his consistency was rewarded with world football’s highest individual honour in 2018, after inspiring Croatia to the World Cup final in Russia.

One of the best midfielders of his generation, Modric has won 14 honours since making the move to Spain seven years ago.

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Gareth Bale

The Welshman’s Real Madrid journey make have taken a sour turn of late, but there can be no denying Bale’s impact since his record-breaking move to Spain six years ago.

The former Tottenham star helped Madrid to a Copa Del Rey and Champions League double in his first season, scoring vital goals in both finals and scoring 22 goals in all competitions.

A La Liga title and three further Champions League triumphs have followed, including his stunning match-winning contribution from the bench as Madrid defeated Liverpool in Kiev in 2018.

He may never have truly won over the hearts of the Madrid faithful despite all he has achieved, though fewer British exports have ever enjoyed such success on foreign shores.

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Luis Suarez

Having lit up the Premier League during a three-and-a-half year spell at Liverpool, Luis Suarez moved to Barcelona in search of the game’s biggest prizes in 2014.

The Uruguayan would not have to wait long, as part of a formidable attacking trident alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar, the forward would fire the Spanish giants to a La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Champions League treble in his first season at the Nou Camp.

In his second season, Suarez would finish as La Liga’s top scorer to scoop the Pichichi award, scoring 40 goals in just 35 appearances in a season which would see him claim the second European Golden Shoe of his career.

Barcelona would also retain their title, part of four league titles Suarez has won in his five seasons in Spain.

Nine major honours have been claimed since his high profile switch five years ago, Suarez having scored 131 goals in 164 appearances since his arrival in La Liga.

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