Real Madrid and superstar players go together like fish and chips.
It’s a tradition that has stood long before club president Florentino Perez coined the term ‘galacticos’ to describe his collection of blockbuster signings, such as Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham.
Left-back Roberto Carlos, signed before the Perez era, certainly fell into that bracket and since departing the Bernabeu in 2007 Brazilian compatriot Marcelo has unquestionably filled his boots.
But is it time to dethrone Carlos and crown Marcelo Real’s left-sided king?
Carlos revolutionised the role of full-backs, with his work in the final third as important as his defensive capabilities.
At the peak of his powers he was Ballon d’Or runner-up in 2002 to then team-mate Ronaldo.
A video of his physics-defying free-kick for Brazil against France at La Tournoi in 1997 has been viewed nearly 17 million times and his was second that year in the Fifa World Player of the Year vote – beaten again to the gong by Ronaldo.
Action Images / Andrew Budd
Four La Liga titles, three Champions League triumphs and a World Cup winner’s medal were fitting reward for such an icon.
Yet he is barely missed in the Spanish capital with Marcelo just as adept.
Carlos himself credits the 28-year-old with possessing greater technical ability, throw in his athleticism and his no-nonsense tackling and you have the ingredients for just about the perfect full-back.
— Marcelotwelve (@MarceloM12) September 29, 2016
His impact in Spain is unquestionable, but with international honours limited to a Confederations Cup win and Olympic silver and bronze medals, Marcelo perhaps still cannot lay claim to being greater than Carlos.
But, if Neymar can prove to be his Ronaldo and spearhead Brazil to World Cup glory then we may be living in the era of the greatest left-back of all time.