In fact, between 2000-2016, Real Madrid broke the world record transfer fee for a player five times (!) with Manchester United’s £89m acquisition of Paul Pogba last summer finally ending that particular cycle.
Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and finally, Gareth Bale, arrived at the Bernabeu for a total combined outlay of £304m and there have been plenty of other expensive arrivals besides that famous five, including Ronaldo, David Beckham and James Rodriguez.
During the Florentino Perez’s two presidential terms, in particular, Real have been synonymous with lavish spending, regularly splashing out gargantuan fees to land the world’s best players.
Everyone knows all about Real Madrid’s ‘Galactico’ driven transfer policy, but far less has been made of Los Blancos’ more astute, thrifty signings down the years. It seems that even Mr Perez isn’t adverse to the odd bargain here and there.
Bearing that in mind, Squawka has assembled a top-class Real Madrid team that cost the club under £30m in transfer fees this century.
*All fees taken from transfermarkt and adjusted for inflation by historical exchange rate.
Goalkeeper: Diego Lopez
Signed from: Sevilla
The presence of Real Madrid’s greatest ever goalkeeper Iker Casillas meant that Diego Lopez had to make his name elsewhere with Villarreal and briefly Sevilla before re-signing for his first club in 2013.
Shortly after his arrival in January that year, Jose Mourinho installed him as the club’s first-choice shot-stopper ahead of Casillas and he retained that position under Carlo Ancelotti the following season.
Right Back: Dani Carvajal
Signed from: Bayer Leverkusen
Plenty of players have been sold by Real Madrid only to be bought back a couple of years later and Dani Carvajal is undoubtedly the biggest success story of that particular transfer policy to date.
Having developed his game during a season in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen, Carvajal was swiftly brought back to Madrid in 2013 and has since become one of the very best right backs in the world.
Centre Back: Jesus Vallejo
Signed from: Real Zaragoza
Not an awful lot is known of 20-year-old Jesus Vallejo right now, but he has been earmarked as a potential partner for Sergio Ramos next season as well as his long-term successor for La Furia Roja.
Unlike Carvajal, Vallejo was signed from elsewhere, joining Los Blancos from Real Zaragoza in January 2015, but like his future teammate, he is learning his trade in Germany’s top-flight as he is currently on loan at Frankfurt. A huge future awaits.
Centre Back: Christoph Metzelder
Signed from: Borussia Dortmund
After helping Borussia Dortmund win the Bundesliga in 2001-02 and starting for Germany in the 2002 World Cup final, Christoph Metzelder was tipped to become one of the best central defenders of his generation.
Sadly, injuries held the towering stopper back and by the time he earned his big move to Real in 2007 he was starting to decline as a footballer. Still, in three years in Spain, Metzelder lifted a La Liga title and a Supercopa de España.
Left Back: Marcelo
Signed from: Fluminense
In 2007, Real Madrid began frantically looking for a left back capable of filling Roberto Carlos’ boots with the legendary Brazilian finally showing signs of slowing down. Thankfully for them, they picked extremely wisely, signing a player who has matched or even surpassed him in the ensuing years.
Marcelo was just 18 when he made the move from Fluminense to Real Madrid but he has been the club’s first-choice left back for the best part of a decade racking up over 400 appearances in the process. These days, the bushy haired Brazilian is arguably the best in his position in world football.
Centre Midfield: Thomas Gravesen
Signed from: Everton
Okay, bear with us on this one. Sure, Thomas Gravesen wasn’t the flashiest or most skilful player to pull on the famous white strip, yet the Dane did have his uses, albeit for a limited period of time.
Following the ill-advised decision to offload Claude Makelele in 2003, Real were in desperate need of some midfield resilience and turned to Gravesen in January 2005. He did just fine for six months or so but was sold to Celtic after just a season and a half.
Centre Midfield: Casemiro
Signed from: Sao Paulo
Another unpolished gem captured from Brazil, Real secured the services of Casemiro in January 2013 and promptly plonked him into their B team for half a season to see how he would do.
The midfield enforcer impressed sufficiently to earn a permanent contract at the Bernabeu but it was a loan spell at Porto that really saw Casemiro develop into a top-class player.
These days, he is one of Zinedine Zidane’s most important players, giving an attack-minded side some much-needed defensive solidity.
Right Wing: Lucas Vazquez
Signed from: Espanyol
A real under-the-radar recruit, this one. Only avid La Liga watchers knew anything of Lucas Vazquez when Real Madrid exercised their option to re-sign him from Espanyol in 2015 after just one full season in the top-tier.
Having failed to break into the first-team previously, Lucas Vazquez has established himself as an essential squad member in his second stint at the club, providing some zip and directness on the right flank when called upon.
Attacking Midfield: Marco Asensio
Signed from: Real Mallorca
Marco Asensio has been earning rave reviews for his cameo appearances for Real Madrid in La Liga this season and is well on his way to becoming a household name after scoring a wonderful individual goal against Bayern Munich.
Possessing exceptional balance and wonderful natural ability off either foot, Asensio looks set to become a leading player for both Los Blancos and the Spanish national team for years to come.
Left Wing: Santiago Solari
Signed from: Atletico Madrid
One of the few players to swap one Madrid club for the other in recent times, Santiago Solari was snapped up by Real Madrid after their city rivals Atletico surprisingly suffered relegation at the end of the 1999-2000 season.
Despite the low-key nature of his arrival, Solari became an important squad player throughout his time at Real, helping the club win the Champions League and two La Liga titles during a five-year spell.
Striker: Javier Saviola
Signed from: Barcelona
Technically, Javier Saviola was a free agent when he signed for Real Madrid, meaning he didn’t quite join directly from Barcelona in the same acrimonious manner that Luis Figo had done seven years beforehand.
Saviola had struggled to live up to expectations during his time at Camp Nou and was exclusively a backup during his time at the Bernabeu, scoring five goals in 29 games for the club prior to moving on to Benfica.
Total value: £29.85m