Claude Makelele believes Real Madrid's purchase of Cristiano Ronaldo is a signal of intent.
The Spanish giants have agreed a record-breaking £80million deal for the Portuguese superstar with Manchester United.
The move comes hot on the heels of the big-money acquisition of Brazilian playmaker Kaka, with Real's new president, Florentino Perez, seemingly reverting back to the Galacticos ethos which dominated his first spell at the club.
French midfielder Makelele was part of the Santiago Bernabeu set-up during that period, helping the club to two league titles and a UEFA Champions League crown, and he feels his former employers are showing signs that they are ready to return to the summit of European football.
"My former club needed this transfer (Ronaldo) to tell the world that they are still the most famous team on the planet," Makelele told skysports.com.
"I think they have gone backwards in the last few years when you compare them to Barcelona and Manchester United.
"People, me included, will say it is a lot of money, but it is worth it for a player of that quality.
"If Mr Perez has invested that money, it is because he feels he can recoup it. And I think Ronaldo is worth it.
"They now need to focus on their defence and they can become a force again.
"Manchester United and Barcelona are still the teams to beat next season, because with the money they now have United will be stronger again next season."