When a player has been at a club for so long, almost becoming part of the furniture in the process, it’s often hard to remember a time without them.
But while saying goodbye is always difficult, after more than 300 appearances and 20 major trophies it’s starting to feel as though Marcelo’s time at Real Madrid has run its course.
No longer the marauding attacking force which so often masked his defensive frailties, the Brazilian left-back — who joined more than 12 years ago from Brazilian side Fluminense — has arguably become more of a hindrance than a help and a near-constant liability.
Though, it must be said, he isn’t solely responsible for the team’s results this season, it feels as though when Real win it’s despite him being in the starting XI, not because of him.
Unfortunately, Real Madrid has done very little winning when the 30-year-old has been on the pitch.
In the previous nine La Liga matches Marcelo has started, Real has won just once and lost six times, including home defeats against Levante, Real Sociedad and Girona.
However, for the eight La Liga matches Marcelo’s understudy, the 22-year-old Sergio Reguilón, has been in the starting XI, Real has won every game.
Marcelo was largely at fault for Real’s latest defeat, Saturday’s shock 2-1 home loss to an out-of-form Girona, losing Cristian Portu at the far post and allowing the forward to freely head home the winning goal.
It was a damning indictment of Marcelo’s overall performance that Girona looked most likely to score when attacking down Real’s left.
Girona’s two goals means that Real Madrid concede on average a goal every 52 minutes with Marcelo in the team, compared to a goal every 135 minutes when Reguilon plays.
Coach Santiago Solari defended Marcelo in his post-match press conference, but rumors suggest the Argentine is now likely to make Reguilon his first choice left back for the remainder of the season.
The defeat left Real nine points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona and all but out of this season’s title race.
Given that the Copa del Rey and Champions League now represent Real’s only realistic hopes of winning a trophy this season, is it safe to play Marcelo in the return legs against Barcelona and Ajax?
In the Brazilian’s defense, he’s having to play alongside Sergio Ramos, arguably the most erratic defender at the game’s top level.
On Sunday, the Spaniard reached an unwanted milestone by becoming the first player in history to receive 20 red cards in La Liga.
Just when Real needed a calm head from their captain, he received second-half bookings for deliberate handball in the penalty area and a wild, dangerous overhead kick.
The incident came in the same week Ramos received criticism for allegedly getting booked deliberately late on against Ajax in order to miss the second leg and get his disciplinary slate wiped clean ahead of the quarterfinals.
In total, it was the 25th time he has been sent off in his club career.
Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on your view — Ramos will only miss Real’s next match against Levante, before returning for El Clasico against Barcelona.
If the way Real Madrid have treated legends in the past is anything to go by, Marcelo’s days at the Bernabeu could be numbered.
In recent times, Iker Casillas and Raul — both arguably more revered among Los Blancos fans than Marcelo — were considerably nearer the peak of their powers than Marcelo is now when they were shown the door.
And with Juventus reportedly keen to bring Marcelo to Turin, perhaps it would be better for both parties to put an end to this 12-year love affair before things turn sour.