Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has claimed that signing Luis Figo from Barcelona in the summer of 2000 was "like ripping out the hearts of" Los Blancos' arch-enemy.

Figo was recruited by Barca from Sporting Libson in 1995 and quickly become a favourite among fans at the Nou Camp, leading them to two La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey crowns and one Uefa Cup.

However, the Portuguese legend went from hero to villain in a matter of days after it emerged that he had reached an agreement with then presidential candidate Perez to swap the Nou Camp for the Santiago Bernabeu if he won the election to become president.

After Perez won Figo complicated a stunning €60m (£54.2m, $70.4m) move after Real activated his release clause at Barcelona, to become the most expensive player in the world.

"Nobody had spent €60m euros in 2000. I convinced him but it was not easy, he was the captain of Barcelona. It was like ripping out the hearts of our countrymen," Perez said to FOX Deportes.

Figo's surprising transfer has been recalled during recent days with many Barcelona fans have renamed Neymar as the 'new Figo'. The Brazilian ace may not have joined Real but his €222m move to Paris Saint Germain has also been seen as treason by the the Catalans supporters.

"I told him that we wanted to build this project around him," Perez added on the Figo deal. "Then came [Zinedine] Zidane, Ronaldo, [David] Beckham, and we created the phenomenon of the Galacticos."

Indeed, Figo became also the first Galactico to arrive to the Santiago Bernabeu under the tenure of Perez.

Zidane, former Barcelona striker Ronaldo and Beckham followed in subsequent summers before Perez decided to resign in 2006. Three years later, the Spanish businessman returned to begin a second Galactico project which have seen the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Gareth Bale joining the 12-time Champions League winners in big money deals.

"After the Galacticos we tried to follow up with players like Cristiano [Ronaldo], Kaka, [Karim] Benzema and [Gareth] Bale," Perez explained. "The greatest players help you grow in a sporting context but also economically. We now occupy a position in the world that I think we deserve."

Luis Figo
Luis Figo joined Real Madrid from Barcelona in 2000. Getty