Thibaut Courtois, Toni Kroos and Ronaldo are all part of a transfer policy first used by Santiago Bernabéu in 1958
It is a quadrennial tradition that Real Madrid swoop for standout performers from the recent World Cup. West German left-back Paul Breitner was an early and successful example of this policy in action when he joined the club weeks after winning the World Cup on home soil in 1974. Gheorghe Hagi, Predrag Spasić, Fernando Redondo, Robert Jarni, the Brazilian Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro, Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira all arrived on the back of strong World Cup performances. Thibaut Courtois, the golden glove winner in Russia this summer, is just the latest player to turn up in Madrid after impressing at the World Cup.
Real Madrid’s two acquisitions after the 2014 World Cup – James Rodríguez and Toni Kroos – provide a curious parallel with the past. One was South American and the other European; one was a highly effective midfielder and sublime passer of the ball who had won the World Cup; and the other was a young, skilful goalscoring forward with an outstanding future ahead of him.