𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐥𝐨 𝐕𝐢𝐞𝐢𝐫𝐚
In the January transfer window of 2007, a promising left-back was bought from the Brazilian 'Football Club Fluminense' by Real Madrid as the potential heir to an outgoing legendary left-back, a fellow Brazilian, a certain Roberto Carlos. Instead, that young player from Fluminense ended up creating his own legacy, even surpassing that of the man he was once touted as the successor to. Fast forward 13 years later from the transfer, and Marcelo is a living legend, a hero in the Real Madrid folklore, a 4 time UCL winner, and arguably the greatest in his position to don the all-white shirt.
However, the past is in the past, and one simply can’t live in the past and ignore the present. Nowadays, Marcelo isn’t the same player who would wreak havoc on the left flank alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, his ‘amigo’. Speaking of their relationship, Ronaldo’s chemistry with Marcelo was extremely good, both on and off the pitch. They shared a dressing room with each other for nine exceptionally successful years, terrorizing opposition defenses, lifting trophy after trophy, and cementing their status as legends in the history books of the most prestigious football club in the world along the way!
Back to the present, though, and he looks a pale shadow of the dynamic player he once was. Now, he wasn’t a defensive behemoth like Ferland Mendy is, at any stage of his career. Actually, I would say the defensive aspect of his game has always been somewhat of an achilles heel to his otherwise all-rounded gameplay, but he always made up for it by his last-ditch tackles and more importantly, sheer attacking prowess.
Now, not everybody is Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi who make age look just a mere number. Age, physical wear and tear, and injuries amassed over the years gradually catch up to everybody, especially in a sport as demanding as football. His main trait, his heralded attacking prowess is not the same anymore, and like much of his overall gameplay, has declined significantly in the last two and a half years. In other words, since Ronaldo left. His only true world-class performance in that time span, reminiscent of the old Marcelo, came in last season’s EL Clasico at the Bernabéu. The fanatics amongst you might say the fact that Ronaldo was present at the Bernabéu for that match, is no coincidence either.
Not only has his influence and importance to the team declined at a staggering rate, the notoriously high demanding Madridistas have turned on his back too. Add to this, he has essentially been frozen out of the national team, having not played for Brazil for a long time!
Once a fan favorite, when any starting XI containing his name is published, there are sighs of concern around the world. Now, the Brazilian warms the bench for Madrid, sitting with young Castilla players, which is a shame for a player of his stature and ability. Indeed, his performances have been very lackluster and unsatisfying, the testament to this is the fact that since Zidane’s return to the helm in March no player has played in more league losses than Marcelo, and in fact, he has started in every one of those games!
If Santiago Solari had remained the head coach going into the 2019/20 season, or if he had been replaced by any other coach than Zidane, Marcelo would have been sold, with Juventus reported to be interested at the time.
Since his arrival from Lyon in the 2019 summer transfer window, Mendy has usurped Marcelo from the left-back spot and has relegated him to just a bench role. Marcelo again benefitted from having Zidane as head coach as the sensible option would have been to sell Marcelo and keep Sergio Reguilon alongside Mendy.
So, what does the future hold for him? It’s evident that Marcelo, with all due respect, is not the same player he was, he is no longer capable of handling the pressure that comes with playing for Real Madrid, at the highest of stages. However, he is not finished, at the age of 32, he still has at least a minimum of 2 years of professional football left in him, just in a lower league. A league less competitive, in a team where the pressure of winning is much lesser than at Madrid.
A player of his reputation and pedigree might look to see out the latter stages of their career in the MLS or go to China or Qatar for a one last payday. However, I think he should do a Dani Alves and move to his homeland of Brazil, sure the money wouldn’t be even nearly as attractive but, not only is the quality of the league better but he would be welcomed back as a hero! I would like to conclude that no matter what, his legacy at Real Madrid is intact and up there with the greats. Fans shouldn’t forget his heroics and vital contributions to the second golden generation of the club. The least the club can do is acknowledge his services and give him a fitting farewell, when he does eventually leave!