‘They hate each other with an intensity that can truly shock the outsider.’
That’s how Spanish journalist Phil Ball described the feeling between Barcelona and Real Madrid in his book Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football. It does not feel like an understatement either. El Clasico is one of the fiercest and most intense rivalries in world football, between two of the most famous clubs on the globe.
You would think, therefore, it would take a brave player to cross the divide and wear the colors of both clubs. But history tells us that it is not actually that rare.
Former Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria could become the latest name to add the two El Clasico clubs to his CV as the Argentine is reportedly considering a move to the Nou Camp after departing PSG.
Here, Sportsmail takes a look at 10 of the most notable players to play for both Spanish giants. Di Maria may want to take heed of their experiences …
Angel Di Maria is reportedly considering a move to Barcelona this summer after departing PSG
Figo’s move across the divide is one of the most controversial transfers in football history. He won back-to-back LaLiga titles at Barcelona, but tarnished his Blaugrana reputation forever when he joined Real Madrid for a world-record fee of £ 37.5million in 2000.
On his first return to the Nou Camp, Barca fans held banners with words such as ‘Traitor’, ‘Judas’, ‘Scum’, and ‘Mercenary’. The midfielder was jeered throughout the game, while bottles, cigarette lighters and mobile phones were thrown from the stands whenever he got the ball.
One of the defining images of El Clasico came in Catalonia in 2002, when a pig’s head was launched on to the pitch as Figo took a corner. The referee even had to suspend play for around 20 minutes as so many missiles were being thrown.
A pig’s head was famously thrown at Luis Figo while he took a corner at the Nou Camp
The Brazilian striker joined Barcelona from PSV at the age of just 20 and set LaLiga alight, scoring 47 goals in all competitions in his debut season and becoming the youngest ever winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
Inter Milan came calling with a world-record fee to award Ronaldo away from the Nou Camp after just one year and he continued his red-hot goalscoring form in five seasons in Italy amid injury issues.
By 2002, Real Madrid were building their star-studded team of Galacticos and Ronaldo made the switch to join the likes of Figo and Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu. He netted 104 goals in 177 appearances for Los Blancos but the club only won one league title in his time there.
Ronaldo joined Real Madrid’s band of Galacticos alongside Figo and Zinedine Zidane in 2002
Eto’o went down as a Barcelona legend during his five years at Barcelona, but it is easy to forget that his professional career started at Real Madrid after he moved from his native Cameroon.
The striker only made three league appearances for Los Blancos though and spent most of his time in the Spanish capital in the reserve team and being shipped out on loan before departing permanently to Mallorca. He became one of LaLiga’s most potent strikers on the Balearic island, prompting Barcelona to buy him in 2004.
Eto’o won three league titles and two Champions League crowns at the Nou Camp, scoring 130 goals in 199 games. He was fined for chanting ‘Madrid, b ****** s, salute the champions’ after Barca lifted LaLiga in his debut season.
Samuel Eto’o became a Nou Camp hero but he actually started his professional career in Madrid
Michael Laudrup was loved by both clubs
It is rare to find a player loved as much by both El Clasico clubs as Laudrup, who made the switch directly across the divide in 1994.
The Danish playmaker was a crucial part of Johan Cruyff’s imperious Barcelona team and he won four successive LaLiga titles and the European Cup in his time at the Nou Camp.
A falling out with Cruyff led to his departure to Madrid, where he won another league title and was forced to deny that he moved to the Bernabeu simply to get back at the legendary Barca manager.
‘I say revenge from what?’ Laudrup said. ‘I’ve had a perfect time, five fantastic years here [at Barcelona]. I went to Madrid because they were so hungry to win. ‘
The current Spanish national team boss has described Barcelona as his ‘home’, but he spent five years at Real Madrid before his long association with Blaugrana began.
One LaLiga title and the Copa del Rey arrived during Enrique’s time at the Bernabeu, but he joined Barca on a free transfer in 1996 and later stated that he ‘rarely felt appreciated by the Real Madrid supporters and did not have good memories there’.
The forward quickly settled at the Nou Camp and ended up spending the final eight years of his playing career there before returning to coach the reserve side in 2008.
After making his first steps in first-team management at Roma and Celta Vigo, Enrique was given the top job at Barca and won the Treble in his first season in charge.
Luis Enrique returned to manage Barcelona in 2014 and won the Treble in his first season
Barcelona signed Hagi as Laudrup’s replacement in 1994, but he would only spend two years at the Nou Camp as he too fell out of favor under Cruyff.
A two-season spell at Real Madrid a couple of years earlier had also been largely unsuccessful, particularly considering he arrived with plenty of hype following his impressive performances at the 1990 World Cup.
Although Spain never saw the best of Hagi, the midfielder is still considered one of the best players of his generation and arguably the greatest player ever to represent Romania.
Spain never saw the best of Gheorghe Hagi, but is arguably the best to represent Romania
Di Maria’s Argentine compatriot Saviola is the last player to have moved between the two clubs, joining Madrid from Barca in 2007.
He had spent six years at Barcelona, scoring at least 19 goals in each of his first three seasons, but was sent out on loan to Monaco and then Sevilla as he was deemed surplus to requirements by Frank Rijkaard.
Game time was hard to come by once he moved to the Bernabeu though and Saviola started just six league matches across two seasons before departing to Benfica.
Javier Saviola is the last player to move between the clubs, joining Madrid from Barca in 2007
Now a high-profile name as a manager, Lopetegui failed to establish himself in his spells at either Real Madrid or Barcelona during his player career.
A goalkeeper, he had been a regular for Los Blancos’ reserve side but only made one senior appearance – against city rivals Atletico in the penultimate game of Real’s 1989-90 title-winning season.
After kick-starting his career at Logrones, Lopetegui signed for Barca in 1994 but played just five league games for the club. He later returned to Real Madrid to coach the B team and spent an ill-fated four months as first team boss in 2018. His final game in charge was a 5-1 El Clasico defeat.
Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui failed to establish himself in spells at either club as a player
Portsmouth fans will remember Prosinecki for his one season at Fratton Park in the early noughties, but that was at the end of a journeyman career that included spells at Barca and Real Madrid.
He signed for Los Blancos as an exciting 22-year-old but struggled to live up to the hype and struggled with injuries, particularly in his debut season.
The midfielder spent his final year contracted to Madrid out on loan at Real Oviedo, before making a permanent switch to the Nou Camp. However, injuries again became an issue and he was sold 18 months later by Bobby Robson.
Robert Prosinecki struggled with injuries during his time at both Real Madrid and Barcelona
A regular fixture in Barcelona’s side throughout the 1980s, Schuster made 241 appearances over eight years in Catalonia but won just one league title.
He made the switch to Real Madrid in 1988 before completing another controversial move two years later – across the Spanish capital to Atletico.
Schuster returned to Real Madrid as manager in 2007 and won LaLiga in his first season, but quit six months later ahead of El Clasico as he admitted that his side had no chance of beating Pep Guardiola’s Barca.
Bernd Schuster returned to Real Madrid as manager in 2007 and won LaLiga in his first season