Marcelo joins the Real Madrid 500 club
The Brazilian made his 500th appearance for Real Madrid against Zaragoza, taking him to within a few games of overtaking Roberto Carlos’ record.
“He is a pearl that half of Europe wanted,” said Ramón Calderón when he presented a wiry Brazilian defender to the press at the Santiago Bernabéu in January 2007. A shy-looking kid with braces, Marcelo arrived at Real Madrid from Fluminense for €6.5m, a promising former futsal player with just 30 senior games under his belt thrown into the limelight at one of the world’s most famous clubs. It would turn out to be some of the best money ever spent by Calderón, even if Florentino Pérez would reap the greatest reward from Marcelo’s endeavour.
Thirteen years later, against Zaragoza in the Copa del Rey on 29 January 2020, Marcelo has become just the second foreign player in Real Madrid’s history to reach 500 games for the club, after his mentor and predecessor on the left touchline at the Bernabéu, Roberto Carlos. The two Brazilians would only share half a season in the Spanish capital with the latter leaving for Fenerbahçe in June 2007 but the continued presence of a first choice Canarinha left back at the club was secured: between them, Marcelo and Roberto Carlos have patrolled the left of defence for two and half decades.
Of the 28 Brazilians to have represented Real Madrid, these two arguably hold the fondest view among Madridistas. Ronaldo delivered brilliance across four seasons but could not drag the Galácticos out of a Zidanes y Pavones rut with one Liga title the only remaining evidence of the presence of greatness.
Marcelo on course for Real Madrid legend status
Marcelo’s mantelpiece is rather better-stocked; four Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and two Copas del Rey as well as a raft of Super and Club World Cup trophies. The 31-year-old is now 27 games shy of his compatriot’s all-time record of 527 appearances, a figure he could match this season after recovering from neck and calf problems to reach 498 against Sevilla in league action and 499 in Salamanca as Real saw off Unionistas in the Copa. In both games, Marcelo captained the side in Sergio Ramos’ absence, the Spaniard now the only player in the squad who has more time on the clock than the Brazilian.
That clock will remain ticking for at least another season. Marcelo’s contract expires in June 2022 but having outlasted challenges to his position from Gabriel Heinze, Fabio Coentrão, Theo Hernández and Sergio Reguilón down the years, it seems inevitable an extension will be offered. Roberto Carlos identified Marcelo as his heir; it will be a tall order for Madrid to pull off another piece of business that successful when the time comes to replace him.
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