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Jul 3, 2009

Record breaking Real keep on spending

This was the week in which Real Madrid held a monopoly on football headlines all over Europe, and possibly the world, and so in an inaugural Week That Was special we plot just how the Spanish giants could potentially spend to over a quarter of a billion euros in just seven days.

€93.9m - Friday, June 26

Club president Florentino Perez's began his opulent recruitment drive with a bang when it was announced on Friday that Real Madrid and Manchester United had finalised an agreement for the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo for an eye-watering €93.9m (£80m).

Not only was this an astronomical fee and a new world record, but it also smashed the old one, set by Perez during his first stint as Real president between 2000 to 2006 - when he paid Juventus £48.1m for Zinedine Zidane, and set the tone for a week of shocking headlines.

Real proudly issued a statement to indicate Ronaldo was confirmed as the first building block in the construction of a new team of galacticos.

"Real Madrid and Manchester United have signed a final agreement for the transfer of the rights of Cristiano Ronaldo," the statement read. "The player will be tied to Real Madrid for the next six seasons and will be presented on July 6 at the Santiago Bernabeu."

€118.9m - Saturday, June 27

With all the focus on Ronaldo it was easy to forget that Perez had already made the brave decision to break with tradition and spend €15m (£13m) on a defender, yes a defender, as he recognised the need to address a problem area that had proved to be the Achilles heel of the first galacticos.

Despite having a not so vital Confederations Cup third place play-off match to prepare for, Spanish international Raúl Albiol took time out from his schedule to remind everybody that although he was probably the least glamorous of Perez's signings he too was heading to the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I do not want to say too much, because I am on international duty," the 23-year-old said before seizing the opportunity to grab the limelight and adding: "But it is clear that the deal has been officially agreed, and benefits all parties."

Real's €15m capture from Valencia, who passed a medical at the Hospital Sanitas La Moraleja when he returned from the Confederations Cup in South Africa, will help fill the gap left in the centre of Los Blancos' defence by the departure of Fabio Cannavaro

On the chances of Valencia colleague David Villa joining him in Madrid, Albiol remained cryptic. "It is better to have him as a team-mate than an opponent," he said.

(€118.9m) Monopoly money - Sunday, June 28

With Real Madrid spending money like it was going out of fashion - or spending it before the banks pull the plug on their seemingly limitless loans - the rest of football could only stand opened mouthed as the Spanish club splashed the cash on transfer target after transfer target.

But on Sunday, VfB Stuttgart sporting director Horst Heldt decided enough was enough and openly criticised Real's summer spending policy as "madness".

"At this moment everything is crazy," Heldt told Marca. "It [Real Madrid] manages its money as if it is Monopoly. That must stop. The figures distort the market for players. It is madness."

Although Heldtis was not a lone voice - Catalunya President Jose Montilla and UEFA chief Michel Platini were equally critical last week - maybe his comments were motivated by the fact that his club would not be receiving a nice wodge of Madrid's Monopoly money.

(€118.9m) Real show who's boss - Monday, June 29

When Manchester United sold Ronaldo to Real Madrid they must have thought they had seen the last of "that mob", as Sir Alex Ferguson famously branded them, but on Monday the Spanish club were back to flex their considerable muscles in the transfer market.

With Real seemingly out of the way United launched a reported €30m bid for Lyon forward Karim Benzema as they looked to plug a Ronaldo shaped hole at Old Trafford, but Madrid countered with a €32m offer of their own and were reportedly willing to go as high as €40m.

At the time, on Monday, this was all newspaper talk, with nothing confirmed by either club, but as the week unfolded it became clear this tittle-tattle was just a preview for the main event as Real's intentions in the transfer market proved to be much greater than any of us imagined.

€186.1m - Tuesday, June 30

On Tuesday, Madrid's recruitment policy really plunged into the realms of fantasy when 50,000 made the trip to the Bernabeu to witness the unveiling of Kaka, a €67.2m (£56m) signing from AC Milan.

The 27-year-old Brazilian star successfully passed his medical, the preliminaries of which were conducted in Brazil prior to the official announcement of his transfer from Milan on June 8, and was declared to be in "perfect condition" before being paraded in front of the adoring fans.

"I hope to write my name into the history of this club with many victories and successes," Kaka said.

He had, of course, briefly gone into the history books as the most expensive player in the world before being superseded by Ronaldo and, when asked if there would be any tension between them, the Sao Paulo-born player was his usual diplomatic self.

"It will be a privilege to play alongside him," Kaka said. "There won't be any rivalry with Cristiano. We are compatible on and off the pitch. We are experienced players and there is no room for jealousy."

€221m - Wednesday, July 1

Having already snapped up the two most expensive players in the world (and don't forget Albiol) Real turned their attention to another of the hottest talents in world football - Karim Benzema.

On Wednesday morning, reports appeared in the press that quoted the 21-year-old's Lyon team-mate Miralem Pjanic as saying: "Benzema is nearly gone to Old Trafford. The English club [Manchester United] are willing to pay £38m for him."

The Spanish press countered this by suggesting Real already had a deal in place to sign the French international and by the afternoon Lyon's director of communications, Olivier Blanc, confirmed the club had received "an offer of a sum appreciably superior to the sum that has been mentioned" but would not say from which club and added that "there is no agreement".

But by Wednesday evening Real's spending power had once again proved enough to thwart United's advances and too much for Ligue 1 side Lyon to resist. Benzema joined Kaka and Ronaldo in signing a six-year contract at the Bernabeu as his French employers agreed to a €35m (£29.7m) fee that took Real's total spend to a massive €221m under Perez.

€271m? - Thursday, July 2

Having already snaffled up three of the biggest names in European football Real's summer spending showed no signs of abating on Thursday as highly-rated Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery - a reported target for Manchester United - declared it was "Real or nowhere" for him.

The 26-year-old France international said he would jump at the chance to join Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema at the Bernabeu and said: "I have decided that I want to leave. It will be Real Madrid or nothing."

In the January transfer window Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness put a price tag on Ribery of "at least €100m" but it is thought a concrete offer of around €50m will be enough to secure the services of the Bundesliga star.

Given that Madrid have successfully signed almost every transfer target they have been linked with so far, it is not unreasonable to assume they will get Ribery, despite Bayern playing hard-ball, in a deal that could take their total outlay to a staggering €271m... and we haven't even mentioned David Villa, Maicon or Zlatan Ibrahimovic yet.

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