The Merengues hero has achieved all there is to achieve at the Bernabeu during almost a decade and a half of service
Sunday marked a significant landmark for Real Madrid superstar Marcelo, 14 years to the day since he first signed for the reigning La Liga champions.
Over the last near decade and a half, the Brazil left-back has become one of the Merengues’ most recognisable players; he’s been influential in some of their biggest successes, and a shining example of what it takes to play at such an elite level for so long.
The full-back has come a long way since 2006, when he first put pen to paper at the Bernabeu after signing on from Brazilian giants Fluminense.
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It was a massive step up, but after making just six league appearances in his first season, he’s gone on to become one of the club’s longest serving players, and currently ranks inside the Blancos‘ Top 15 appearance makers of all time in all competitions.
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He’s fast closing in on his hero Roberto Carlos, who made 527 outings for Real, and once claimed that Marcelo’s own technical level surpassed his own.
The Brazilian has already surpassed club legends such as Amancio, Alfredo Di Stefano, Emilio Butragueno and Cristiano Ronaldo, and could overtake a few more luminaries before his time at the Bernabeu comes to an end.
Marcelo also ranks among Real’s most decorated players, and has been a key figure in one of the most successful club sides in the history of club football.
He’s won five Spanish titles, four Champions League—including the Decima victory against rivals Atletico Madrid—and made Uefa’s Team of the Year on three occasions.
The wideman has also made the FIFPro World XI on six occasions, and a case could be made that he is world football’s finest left-back this century.
He’s proven to be an absolute bargain for Real after moving for a transfer fee of $8 million, catching the eye consistently for his flair football, his footwork, his technical prowess and his energetic approach to every game.
Particularly earlier in his career, his explosive pace was a key asset, notably in counter-attacking moves, when Real would launch forward at speed and simply overwhelm their opponents.
Marcelo’s presence bombing down the left flank helped Real outnumber opposition backlines, helping to create space for Los Merengues’ forwards and providing lethal assists for the club’s strikers.
“Removing [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano,” Argentina legend Diego Maradona said in 2011, “Marcelo is the best player in the league right now.”
Now in his early 30s, Marcelo still retains the faith of Zinedine Zidane, and the full-back has largely seen off the challenge of £47 million man Ferland Mendy to retain his spot on the left side of Real’s backline.
“I swear to God that I thought I was going there just to have a conversation,” Marcelo recounted to the Players Tribute recently, remembering his first meetings with Real.
“When I arrived at the meeting with the club, I saw the contracts with the Real Madrid symbol on top and signed them quickly,” he added. “Then some men in suits took me straight to the field.
“I was introduced to the press that day and I had no idea that it was going to be my presentation,” the left-back concluded. “My family in Brazil didn’t believe it until they saw the news on ‘Globoesporte.”
From such modest beginnings, remarkable things have been achieved by the Brazil wideman, and when he does leave Real—his contract expires in 2022—he will have left an unforgettable legacy.