Borja Valero said it is a shame his former club Real Madrid “are no longer the cream of the crop”.
Trophies have eluded Madrid since they won the Club World Cup, Champions League and Copa del Rey in 2013-14, with the capital club taking a backseat to arch-rivals Barcelona.
Barca have lifted two of the past three La Liga titles, while they also claimed last season’s Champions League and Copa del Rey to complete the coveted treble.
Valero, who did not make a senior appearance for Madrid after having emerged from the youth team in 2004 and is now plying his trade for Fiorentina in Serie A, spoke to ABC and called for patience under Rafael Benitez.
“It’s sad Madrid are no longer the cream of the crop,” said the one-time Spain international.
“[They] are even struggling to maintain their reputation for being a classy club.
“Madrid need to show more tranquillity and patience if they are to get back to being the best club in the world.
“Despite the good years Barca are stringing together, they’re still a long way off being what Real Madrid have been.”
Madrid are third in La Liga after 14 rounds – four points adrift of Barca, while they are through to the Champions League knockout round.
However, Madrid were kicked out of the Copa del Rey last week after fielding the ineligible Denis Cheryshev against Cadiz.