Left-back Marcelo's place in the Real Madrid starting XI is not guaranteed but coach Santiago Solari is pleased with his attitude and commitment.
Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari has hailed Marcelo's "love for the club" despite the Brazilian losing his place in the starting XI. Marcelo, a mainstay at the Santiago Bernabéu since joining from Fluminense in 2007, has not started a game in his favoured left-back slot since the 2-0 defeat at home to Real Sociedad on 6 January with Sergio Reguilón seemingly now first choice.
Difficult times for Marcelo
That has inevitably led to speculation the 30-year-old could leave the Spanish capital with Juventus - where he would reunite with former team-mate and close friend Cristiano Ronaldo - reportedly leading the chase.
Solari, speaking ahead of Thursday's Copa del Rey clash with Girona, refused to discuss the player's potential exit but did talk up his attitude. He told a news conference: "His love for the club and his commitment to the club and his joy at training are undoubted, and his behaviour is impeccable. All these things must be praised. It always a difficult task to pick the team."
Asked if he had discussed the situation with Marcelo privately, he added: "What happens in private stays in private. But competition within the squad is an essential part of football. Everyone must feel they have an opportunity and can lose their place [if they don't do well]."
Madrid failed to win a domestic competition last season - apart from the season-opening Super Cup - and Solari is eager to improve that record, although he admits 12th-placed Girona will be no pushovers. He said: "Girona are having a very good season, they're very dangerous on the counter-attack. We want to repeat what we showed against Sevilla [on Saturday], when we played a very complete game, and we must bring that to the team in the Copa.”