Double agents: 10 players who played for both Liverpool and Real Madrid

Several players have graced the turf at Anfield and the Santiago Bernabéu during their careers. Ben Painter picks out 10 players who played for both badges.

Jürgen Klopp’s side is currently in the midst of a duel with 13-time European Cup winners Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final.

It was always going to be a tough test against the Champions League record holders, and despite Madrid dominating the first leg, the 3-1 score line isn’t the end of the world. The Mohamed Salah away goal has given the Reds a glimpse in the tie and, with the second leg at Anfield, anything is possible as we know.


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With the teams combining for a total of 19 European titles, it is fair to say that these sides have had several world class players over the years. As you might suspect, several players have played for both these distinguished clubs and here are ten who have made their marks in the red and white.

Antonio Núñez

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The Spaniard signed for Real Madrid in 2001 from lower Spanish side Las Rozas de Madrid, playing for the B team across his first two seasons at the club.

He managed to break through into the Real Madrid first team in the 2003/04 season, playing 13 times and scoring one goal but was moved on in the summer, as he made the move to Liverpool in the deal that saw Michael Owen go to the Santiago Bernabéu – becoming Rafa Benitez’ second signing at Anfield in the process.

Nuñez injured his knee in his first training session and would miss three months of action. Upon recovery, he would play 27 times for the Reds in his single season on Merseyside. His only goal came in the League Cup final defeat against Chelsea and he remains the only Liverpool player to have his only goal for the club come in a major final.

As the season ended – and after becoming a Champions League winner – he would move on to Celta Vigo in La Liga. The rest of his career would be spent in the Spanish second division, before a limited spell in Cyprus drew a curtain on his career.

Nuri Şahin

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A German-born Turkish International, the midfielder started his career in his native Germany with heavyweights Borussia Dortmund. His spell at Signal Iduna Park was a highly successful one and this brought saw many of Europe’s top clubs start to circle. It wouldn’t be long before he made his big move.

He completed his transfer to Real Madrid in 2011 at the young age of 23. His opening season in the Spanish capital would be plagued by injury, as he was limited to just 12 appearances for Los Blancos.

With his game time further limited by more Galactico signings, he joined Liverpool for the 2012/13 season. Unfortunately, his time at Anfield didn’t work out as planned, as he only lasted five months, cutting short his loan after 12 games. He would return to Borussia Dortmund at the start of 2013 on loan for the remainder of the season, before re-joining them permanently from Real Madrid in the summer.

After a further five impressive seasons at Dortmund, Şahin moved to Werder Bremen in 2018 for two seasons and now finds himself in Turkey, playing for Antalyaspor in the Turkish Super Lig.

Fernando Morientes

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After two solid seasons with Zaragoza in La Liga, Real Madrid signed him in 1997. Eight seasons in the white of Real Madrid would follow, as a highly successful spell spearheading the side would see several trophies won over the years in the Spanish capital, including two La Liga titles and three Champions League medals.

After 272 games and 100 goals for Los Blancos, he moved to Liverpool in the 2004/05 season. Morientes unfortunately was cup tied in the Champions League and therefore could not feature for the Reds in their successful Champions League victory that year.

During his two seasons on Merseyside he generally struggled, scoring just 12 goals in 61 games, but did add further trophies to his winner’s cabinet, adding the Super Cup and FA Cup to his many successes.

The Spaniard would leave Anfield and return to his homeland, spending three seasons with Valencia, before a solitary season with Marseille in Ligue 1. He retired in 2010.

Álvaro Arbeloa

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The full-back started his career with Real Madrid, progressing through their junior teams and making four appearances for the first team in the 2004/05 season.

With his urge for first team football growing, Arbeloa moved on to Deportivo La Coruna, where he played 20 times across six months, impressing Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez in the process. He would be brought to Merseyside in January 2007. A Champions League runner up during his time at Anfield, the Spaniard played 98 times and scoring twice across all competitions.

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Los Blancos bought him back in 2009 for £5million and he played for seven years, winning La Liga, two Champions League titles, a Super Cup and the Club World Cup in the process.

His time at Madrid came to an end after 233 games, returning to the Premier League with West Ham in the 2016/17 season. This would be his last in football before hanging up his boots.

Fabinho

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Everyone knows Fabinho is a current Liverpool player, but generally little is known about his time before Monaco. Before joining the French side he had spells at Fluminense, Rio Ave and Real Madrid.

Without making a single first team appearance in his country of birth for Fluminense, he moved to Portugal with Rio Ave, but failed to feature for them and was subsequently loaned out to Real Madrid.

He played for their B team Real Madrid Castilla across the 2012/13 season and even played once for the first team in La Liga. However, Real Madrid did not sign him permanently, as he was loaned out to Monaco for two seasons, who eventually made the move to sign him permanently.

It was his form for Monaco and his title winning campaign at holding midfield that made Liverpool want his services, signing the Brazilian in 2018. He has since helped Liverpool to Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup and Super Cup titles during his 113 appearances thus far. He will certainly want plenty more silverware whilst he remains on Merseyside.

Nicolas Anelka

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A journeyman forward during his playing days, he played for pretty much every big team during his illustrious career.

After breaking through at Paris Saint-Germain, Arsène Wenger brought him to Arsenal in 1997 but he failed to settle in the capital, eventually moving on after two seasons.

Real Madrid bought him for £22.5m, but he played for just one season, scoring seven goals in 31 matches in a campaign which saw him win the Champions League.

He rejoined PSG in 2000, playing in the French capital for 18 months, but was loaned out to Liverpool for the remainder of the 2001/02 season. The Frenchman scored five times in 22 games for the Reds, as they finished second that year but the move was not made permanent.

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Anelka subsequently played for Manchester City, Fenerbahçe, Bolton, Chelsea, Shanghai Shenhua, Juventus, West Brom and Mumbai City before retiring in 2015.

Michael Owen

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The pacey forward burst onto the scene with Liverpool in 1996 and became an immediate star for club and country in his teenage years.

Scoring 158 goals in 297 appearances on Merseyside, his legacy was somewhat tarnished following Owen’s later career but there is no question he was a quality player during his days on Merseyside.

Whilst at Anfield, Owen won the treble in 2000/01 with the Reds. A Super Cup and another League Cup would follow before he left for Real Madrid in 2004 for £8m.

His career in Spain did not live up to his Liverpool form, managing just the single season in Spain, scoring 16 goals in 46 games. This wasn’t the worst return for the Englishman but a combination of injuries and lack of silverware saw him moved on, signing for Newcastle United the following summer.

Jerzy Dudek

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Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League winning goalkeeper, started his career in his native Poland with Concordia Knurów and GKS Tychy.

Dudek moved on to Feyenoord in 1996 where he played well and found some great form prompting Liverpool to buy him in 2001. At Liverpool, the Polish international won the FA Cup, League Cup, Community Shield along with the famous 2005 Champions League.

After 184 games and the signing of Pepe Reina, Dudek lost his place and in 2007 he moved to Spain with Real Madrid where he was used predominantly as a number two behind Iker Casillas.

He won La Liga once, the Copa Del Rey and the Supercopa de Espana with Los Blancos before calling it a day in 2011 at 38 years old.

Steve McManaman

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A fantastic midfielder on his day, McManaman started his career with Liverpool and played for the first team for nine years.

Amassing 364 games, 66 goals and 85 assists along with an FA Cup and a League Cup, after contract problems McMananman left on a free transfer at the end of the 1998/99 season.

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He signed for Real Madrid and became a Galactico in the process, adding two La Liga titles and a Champions League winners medal to his accomplishments.

The Englishman scored 14 in 158 games for Madrid and left the Spanish capital after four seasons, signing for Manchester City before his retirement two years later.

Xabi Alonso

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A true legend with both sides, Alonso began life with Real Sociedad but moved from Spain to Liverpool in 2004 with fellow compatriot Rafael Benitez.

At Anfield, Alonso won an FA Cup, a Champions League, the Community Shield and the Super Cup across his momentous five-year spell. He became a fan favourite and formed a great partnership in the midfield with Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano when he joined later on.

In 2009, Alonso left for Real Madrid, costing them £30m and, like his time at Liverpool, the Spaniard become a vital player for Madrid in midfield, helping them to a La Liga title, two Copa Del Reys, one Supercopa Espana and the Champions League. He would amass 236 games across five seasons for Los Blancos before he made the move to a third footballing juggernaut.

He made the leap over to Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich for three successful years before his retirement in 2017 – Alonso returned to Real Madrid as the manager of the u14 side in 2018.


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