Marcelo painted a fascinating image this week with his comments about sitting next to Gareth Bale in the Real Madrid dressing room and Bale not speaking Spanish to him.
Could these silent conversations using only hand gestures, written notes, and pointing at the tactics board serve to prepare him for a swansong in English football? If Marcelo can’t teach Gareth Spanish, maybe Gareth can improve Marcelo’s English?
At the moment an Italian job seems more likely in the summer with his old pal Cristiano Ronaldo saving him a place in the Juventus dressing room. Wherever his next move takes him, it has started to look increasingly like this will be his last season at Real Madrid.
He’s playing poorly but even if he continues in his current form he will still go down as one of the greatest players to ever play for the club.
He has won 20 trophies including four Champions League titles and has clocked up more wins for Madrid than any foreign player in their history ahead of Roberto Carlos who he was bought to replace – a task no one really believed he, or anyone else, would be up to.
It’s been tragicomic to watch his his dip in form this season – trotting back to track counter-attacks, playing teams onside. Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari has taken to answering every question about Marcelo by making reference to his status at the club.
In Tuesday’s press conference he said – as he had said after Marcelo had another shocker in the recent Clasico at the Nou Camp – ‘Marcelo is our vice-captain, a symbol of the club’.
Marcelo seems still to play the big games even though on current form he is nowhere near the level of 22-year-old Sergio Reguilon, the youth team product who seems destined to be his long-term replacement.
That may mean that even at the Johan Cruyff Arena Marcelo plays ahead of Reguilon but Solari will select him reluctantly if so – he knows who can be relied upon to deliver these days and it is not the Brazilian.
Next May he will be 31. Dani Alves gave Manchester United the run around on Tuesday night and he will be 36 just before Marcelo’s birthday, so it is far too early to call time on Marcelo’s career.
It just seems that he needs a new challenge. Only last season he tore up and down the Madrid left scoring three goals and managing 11 assists.
Once again it was his energy levels that enabled Ronaldo to roam in-field and concentrate on attacking. Marcelo could cover his entire flank, he didn’t need help.
It had been that way since Ronaldo joined the club in 2009. It is no wonder that Ronaldo would love him at Juventus.
If he is currently trying to wriggle his way out of the club it will not be easy because his contract runs until 2022 and carries a £158million release clause. He also lacks the cold heart necessary to really make himself such a problem for the club that they feel they need to offload.
In one breath he says: ‘If they club doesn’t want me then I will accept their decision and leave,’ but in the next he adds: ‘But I’m sure they are not going to get rid of me.’
Perhaps the single biggest reason for club and player to move on is to avoid doing any long term damage to a reputation that Marcelo has built over more than a decade.
This season opposing coaches have done little to hide the fact that their tactics included targeting Marcelo’s wing. He shouldn’t be remembered for that when there are four Champions League winners’ medals in his collection.
On Wednesday night he will try to do his part in moving closer to picking up a fifth. He will have to get on the pitch ahead of the brilliant Reguilon first.
Next summer he may well be someone’s big pre-season signing. It’s unlikely to be the Premier League – despite all that English he’s learning from Bale – but wherever he goes football will be better off if he can find his old spark again.