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Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano has criticised the club for a lack of long-term planning and for its obsession with buying new players.

The 79-year-old Argentine, who steered Real Madrid to five consecutive European Cups between 1956 and 1960, argues that the club’s transfer policies had undermined team spirit.

“It’s amazing how many players they have been buying and selling,” he told reporters on Tuesday after being presented with a gold medal by the regional government of Madrid in recognition of his achievements.

“You can’t run a football club as if it was a supermarket.”

Real spent around €90m on new players at the start of last season, but it for the third season running they will end the campaign empty-handed.

“We have to try and improve next year,” said Di Stefano. “We have to work with the youth team players first… we have to persevere and try to get better.

“There are some great players at Real but they have to work as a team… in football what counts is team spirit. It isn’t an individual sport like boxing or tennis.”

Di Stefano admitted that he was saddened by Zinedine Zidane’s recent announcement that he would be retiring at the end of the season.

“It’s a shame (that Zidane will be retiring). He’s the best player to have graced the pitch in a very long time. He is a footballing genius.”

But he said that it would be a mistake to try and buy Arsenal striker Thierry Henry.

“We had the chance to buy him (Henry) eight years ago and they didn’t want him,” added Di Stefano. “And now he’s going to come here when he’s eight years older while at the same time they are getting rid of Zidane at the age of 33? I don’t understand any of it.”

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