- By Ciaran Fahey in Berlin.
It's a familiar narrative. Suarez was also another who couldn't resist the attraction of the Catalan side. Real drew 2-2 with Numancia in the second leg of their Copa del Rey tie, advancing to the quarter-finals having won the first leg 3-0. After a dream start at Real, with eight trophies out of a possible 10, Zidane has endured a tough season with his side 16 points behind Barcelona in the La Liga title race.
"We want the fans to come to the stadium to support their team", he said.
However, the financial dynamic between the Premier League and La Liga's dominant duo has changed since then.
Before arriving at Manchester City, Guardiola had Sterling in his sights as a player he could transform.
Is the Real Madrid v Villarreal game online?
Will that ever change?
If Real Madrid still harbour hopes of pipping Barcelona to the Spanish title, beating Villarreal on Saturday at the Santiago Bernabeu is a must. The sale of Cédric Bakambu to China has reduced their attacking threat but the defence has tightened up and we can expect more of the gritty commitment they displayed in the last-gasp cup success over Leganés on Wednesday night.
The way things were barely five months ago, it is shocking to see how the tables have quickly turned.
With their forwards not scoring as much as usual, that places increased important on Real's midfield to control matches, keep possession and frustrate opposition teams. We explain why the back-to-back Champions League winners are struggling so badly in La Liga this season.
"I am tired of hearing that Madrid are bad, it is easy to say that everything is bad but you know that everything is not negative here", Zidane said in a press conference. Take Barca of the early 2000s, for instance.
Villarreal grabbed one back just before half time, when Mario Gaspar blasted his first time shot into the net.
Madrid enters the game under pressure after a sequence of disappointing results, including two consecutive matches without a win in La Liga - a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo and a 3-0 home loss against Barcelona. Change this and players like Coutinho might not feel such an irrepressible urge to leave England.