The January transfer window has closed, and nobody came in and nobody went out for Real Madrid. That is apart from Denis Cheryshev who left on loan to Valencia. Real Madrid and neighbors Atlético Madrid, like Barcelona before them, have been slapped with a transfer ban for abnormalities regarding youth transfers. However, like Barcelona, Real has appealed the ban, therefore making them eligible to sign players in the meantime. Loophole? Pretty much. The only peculiar of note interest in an otherwise boring explanation of logistics and registration laws is the fact that even though Real Madrid could sign players while the appeal was (and still is) being taken into account, they didn’t. Not even a spare left back.
There are parties in the football world that are skeptical about Real Madrid’s trademark Brazilian left back, Marcelo. For some he’s too erratic and a defensive liability in 1v1 situations. He also spends so much time getting forward that he’s not always at his post when the play springs in the other direction. That being said, he’s wonderfully nifty on the dribble and provides an obvious potent threat going forward, even in a team of big name attackers. He’s also terrifically athletic; his low center of gravity gives him a tight and powerful turning radius. In addition, Marcelo’s early bending crosses are becoming a trademark in his game, and something Ray Hudson, color commentator at BeIN Sports, raves about. So, it is for these assets that there’s many other parties in football, madridistas in particular, that really do consider Marcelo to be the heir to Roberto Carlos’ thrown… regardless of his uncertain standing with national team coach, Dunga.
Below is a goal Marcelo scored against Schalke in last year’s Champions League round of 16… with his weaker right foot:
The trouble is Marcelo is constantly overworked. It seems obvious why. When the club decided to loan out the only other natural left back in the team this summer to Monaco, Fabio Coentrão, the Portuguese defender was never replaced. Now, I know what some are thinking – Gareth Bale. But I don’t think club president Florentino Perez spent the Bale money on a full back. In other words Madrid’s micromanaging higher-ups wouldn’t allow it. So surely a solution to this left-sided problem would've been priority in the January window, would it not? Apparently not. Even though there were rumors circulating about the possibility of going in for Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno or Wolfsburg’s Ricardo Rodríguez, neglectfully no signing was made. And sure enough when you tempt fate, fate will act.
In the final seconds of Real Madrid’s gritty 2-1 away win at Granada this past weekend (Real’s first game after the January window had shut), Nigerian winger Isaac Success threw a body at Marcelo, sending the Brazilian crashing to the grass below clutching his shoulder. The full time whistle blew but Marcelo stayed turf-ridden, and the last images of the broadcast were not of Real celebrating Luka Modric’s late winner, but of the medical staff hunched over an ailing Marcelo – Uh oh.
When Marcelo went absent to injury earlier in the season, then manager Rafa Benitez scrambled. He tried Danilo (who's struggled even at right back this season) and Álvaro Arbeloa, another right back visibly on the wrong side of his prime. In the end it was Nacho that played deputy most effectively, despite being a right-footed center back. The only mitigating factor to that solution was that Nacho made his first team debut for Real as a left back in a 6-3 win at Valencia in 2011. Ever since he’s been seen as a fill-in there if needed. But it looks like one of them will have to play out of position again in the very near future, or at least until Marcelo returns. It will take time for Marcelo's shoulder injury to heal. Madrid’s next three fixtures are Athletic Club at home, Roma away in the Champions League, and a trip south to Málaga. What is the best solution for Zidane?