It feels symbolic that Marcelo Vieira da Silva Júnior, or Marcelo for short, surpassed Roberto Carlos' tally of 527 matches in the iconic white jersey of Real Madrid.
Marcelo's fellow compatriot and swashbuckling left-back racked up a dizzying amount of appearances and silverware on his way to becoming a Los Blancos legend. Marcelo has excelled as his direct replacement ever since 2007, but 2021-22 will be his last campaign in the Spanish capital.
Since Marcelo's arrival at the Bernabéu, it didn't take long for the Fluminense youth product to become one of the cornerstones of a Real Madrid dynasty under Zinedine Zidane, a period in which the club won four Champions League titles in five years between 2014 and 2018. Lifting European club football's most coveted prize for three years running was an unprecedented, almost unthinkable feat at the time, the likes of which we are highly unlikely to see again in this lifetime or the next. €6.5m for a man who is tenth on the all-time Real Madrid appearance charts sounds like one of the bargains of the century.
Throughout his career, the Brazilian has been a marauding presence down the left flank, often deploying himself as a playmaker during periods of sustained possession. That's how comfortable he is on the ball, which isn't a surprise given his nationality. Marcelo has offered such an attacking threat for over a decade that it's pretty easy to forget that he's a defender by trade.
After being usurped by Ferland Mendy in Zinedine Zidane's starting XI last term, game-time has become limited for the legendary Brazilian who is now 33 years old and has only made two appearances this term.
There can be very little arguing over the man's trophy haul:
🥇 Marcelo at Real Madrid
- 🏆🏆🏆🏆 Champions League
- 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 LaLiga
- 🏆🏆 Copa Del Rey
- 🏆🏆🏆🏆 Spanish Super Cup
- 🏆🏆🏆🏆 FIFA Club World Cup
- 🏆🏆🏆 UEFA Super Cup
- ⚪️ 530* Real Madrid appearances (2nd all-time for a foreigner)
Marcelo's legacy at Real Madrid, however, is cast in stone, and his presence in the dressing room will be sorely missed when he leaves the club for pastures new at the end of the season. The talk on the street is that Fluminense might well be his next destination, but surely there won't be a shortage of suitors for his signature.
He has excelled for the most successful club in European history during their most glorious period by far, and he has done so alongside some of the game's greatest names. If this wasn't already clear, however, Marcelo is an icon in his own right. Let's enjoy his last season as a Los Blancos player.