Brazil legend Roberto Carlos has hailed compatriot Marcelo as the "best left-back of all time".

Marcelo will leave Real Madrid at the end of this month, ending a 15-year stay in the Spanish capital which saw him become Los Blancos' most decorated player.

While playing a limited role in his final season under Carlo Ancelotti, Marcelo lifted the LaLiga title and won the Champions League, taking his trophy count to 25 with Madrid.

The 34-year-old was brought in to replace Roberto Carlos when he left Madrid in 2007, and the Brazil legend has lavished praise on his fellow countryman.

"Marcelo, in my opinion, has been the best left-back of all time. He knows, I have talked to him many times," the 49-year-old told reporters.

"It is a shame that he has left Madrid. He is not finishing his career. He continues his sequence in his career as a football player. He has four or five years more.

"We, from Madrid, are very grateful to him for the titles, 25 titles. He overcame me very easily. I saw him grow in Real Madrid, he arrived there when he was 17 years old.

"I didn't go to his [farewell] presentation because I knew I was going to cry. It was his farewell, I knew I was going to cry because I've seen him grow up and look what he's done.

"Nowadays there a lot of questions about who was better, Roberto Carlos or Marcelo, but there is no dispute between me and Marcelo, as he is like my son.

"I know that he has a great story with Real Madrid. For me, it is as if I was winning with him.

"I wish him the best of luck and thank you very much for everything and that he continues to be an idol, an example a phenomenon."

Cristiano Ronaldo has paid a glowing tribute to Marcelo following his Real Madrid departure, hailing the Brazilian as "more than a team-mate" during their time together in the Spanish capital.

Marcelo held an emotional news conference on Monday to say farewell to Madrid, where he spent 15 years and lifted 25 trophies – making him the club's most decorated player in terms of honours.

A large part of that period of success came alongside Ronaldo with the pair forging a superb relationship down the left side that was decisive in the club's years of domination in the Champions League.

That spell also saw Ronaldo become the club's all-time leading scorer before he left for Juventus and now Manchester United, and the Portugal great still holds his former colleague in the highest regard.


"More than a team-mate, a brother that football gave me," he posted on social media.

"On and off the fields, one of the biggest stars with whom I had the pleasure of sharing a locker room.

"Go with everything on this new adventure, Marcelo!"

Marcelo, 34, confirmed he does not plan to retire and would have no problem facing Real Madrid if he was to tackle them as an opponent.

"I won't retire, not now," he said. "I feel I can still play. Facing Real Madrid won't be a problem. I'm a big Madridista but I'm also a big professional."

An emotional Marcelo declared Real Madrid have "a promising future" as the Los Blancos legend issued his farewell at the Santiago Bernabeu on Monday.

Marcelo has been with Los Blancos since 2007, making almost 550 appearances for the LaLiga giants, but confirmed he would depart after last month's Champions League final victory over Liverpool.

That was the fifth Champions League title added to the left-back's illustrious trophy haul, while he played a part as Madrid lifted their 35th LaLiga title with four games to spare.

The Spanish top-flight success made him Madrid's most decorated player in history after lifting 24 trophies with the club, before adding another European triumph to extend his record.

Marcelo only appeared 18 times in all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign, but the 34-year-old is delighted to leave behind a legacy at "the best club in the world".

"When I left Brazil I had in mind to play in Europe, to play in the Champions League and now when I leave Real Madrid, I leave as the player with the most titles in the history of the best club in the world and that is something historic," he said at his farewell news conference.

"There are no words to explain the gratitude, the work of all those who are behind it, all of them. I have tried for all these years, I have treated everyone equally.

"There will be no problem coming back. I don't feel like I am leaving, but there will be no problem.

"I have always lived for the moment. I have not thought beyond it. Here they gave me the opportunity to play it all and to win it all on the magical nights at the Bernabeu.

"I can only be grateful that I have lived all these years happily, with a smile on my face. I haven't had many injuries, I had good games, I scored goals.

"I don't think much about the future. It's hard to leave the club of your life after 15 years. There's a lot of joy, suffering, pain...

"I've given everything for the club. I would do the same thing again. Wearing this shirt is a very nice thing. The future doesn't scare me – it's what I had to do. History is already written. I'm very happy with myself."

As for his next move, Marcelo remains unbothered by going into coaching and was unable to provide an update on his playing future amid talk of a move to Turkey.

"When I have something, if I have something, I'll tell you," he added. "I don't have the capacity to coach – I have other facets that I think I'm better at.

"Tactics for me have always been strange. I've never understood systems. But I really enjoy playing. I don't think I'm a coach, I don't think I'll try."

Marcelo signed off by assuring Los Blancos supporters that the club was in safe hands, adding: "Real Madrid has a very promising future".

Pele has congratulated fellow Brazilians Vinicius Junior and Marcelo for their contributions to Real Madrid's triumphant Champions League campaign, which he hailed as a "beautiful adventure". 

Vinicius converted Federico Valverde's cross in the 59th minute to fire Madrid to a 1-0 final win over Liverpool at the Stade de France, as Los Blancos were crowned European champions for a 14th time - seven more occasions than any other team.

With his decisive strike, Vinicius became the first Brazilian player to score the winning goal in a Champions League final since Juliano Belletti did so for Barcelona against Arsenal in 2006, also in Paris.

The winger's sixth goal in the Champions League this season, combined with his previous four assists, made him the first South American aged 21 or younger to record 10 goal contributions in a single edition of the competition since Lionel Messi's 14 in 2008-09 (nine goals, five assists).

Meanwhile, Marcelo lifted the trophy as club captain before announcing his departure from Madrid, having made more appearances for Los Blancos than any other non-Spanish player during his 15-year stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Writing on Instagram after the final, Brazil great Pele hailed his compatriots for their roles in Madrid's success, also praising man-of-the-match Thibaut Courtois and Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, who is the first coach to win the Champions League/European Cup four times.

"That's why football is the most beautiful sport in the world. I got to see a dear friend, Vinicius, who overcame so many challenges to decide an epic game," Pele wrote.

"I'm delighted to see Marcelo be the first Brazilian to lift a Champions League trophy as captain. 

"I witnessed an impeccable goalkeeper, Courtois, make inexplicable saves, and a strategist coach, Ancelotti, who knew how to interpret the moment and use the best characteristics of his team. 

"Congratulations Real Madrid. What a beautiful adventure!"

Veteran Brazilian full-back Marcelo has confirmed he is leaving Real Madrid following their Champions League final triumph.

The 34-year-old left-back has been with Los Blancos since 2007, making almost 550 appearances for the Spanish powerhouse, trailing only Karim Benzema as the highest-ranking foreigner.

Marcelo, who was an unused substitute in Saturday's 1-0 win over Liverpool, confirmed after the game that he would leave the club this off-season with his contract expiring at the end of June.

"It was my last game with Real Madrid," Marcelo said.

Marcelo will exit the club with 25 titles as a Madridista, which is more than any other player in club history.

It had been speculated that the Brazilian may accept a pay cut to remain with Madrid next season.

Marcelo, who joined Madrid from Fluminense, made 18 appearances in all competitions this campaign.

Pele expects to enjoy a strong Brazilian flavour to the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, but asked on Friday night: "Am I the only one excited?"

The three-time World Cup winner, still considered by many the greatest player in history, pointed to the strong presence of players from the Selecao set to be on show at the Stade de France in Paris.

He noted how Madrid have Vinicius Junior and Casemiro in their ranks, while also suggesting Alisson and Fabinho could have crucial roles for Liverpool in the showpiece match.

Pele could have also mentioned Madrid's Marcelo, Eder Militao and semi-final comeback hero Rodrygo, who scored twice at the death in the second leg against Manchester City to rescue a seemingly lost cause.

Their Brazilian influence is strong, while Liverpool can also point to forward Roberto Firmino in their squad.

Pele wrote on Instagram: "I want to see a great final between @realmadrid and @liverpoolfc tomorrow. My friends @vinijr and @casemiro will have a tough challenge against @alissonbecker and @fabinho. Am I the only one excited about tomorrow's match? I'm sure not!"

The 81-year-old Pele has been battling ill health in recent times, undergoing treatment for colon cancer. He recently said he managed to find "peace" in the company of his wife Marcia and dog Cacau.

"Treatment is difficult, but feeling their love is the best medicine," Pele said.

Real Madrid duo Marcelo and Thibaut Courtois have hailed Carlo Ancelotti's impact on the side on the eve of their Champions League final clash with Liverpool, with the former saying he is "lucky" to have worked with the Italian.

Ancelotti has made a stunning impact since returning to the club he led to the 2014 Champions League title, winning LaLiga by a 13-point margin and leading Los Blancos to the showpiece event in Paris against all odds.

Madrid have become the first team to reach the competition's final after losing a game in each of the last 16, quarter-finals, and semi-finals, while Ancelotti could win the trophy for a fourth time as head coach.

That would make the Italian the most successful boss in the competition's history outright, and he has won three of his previous four Champions League finals – though his one such defeat came against Liverpool as Milan boss in 2005.

Speaking alongside Ancelotti at Madrid's pre-match press conference in Paris, both players hailed the Italian's abilities to communicate with Los Blancos' star-studded squad, with Marcelo saying he felt fortunate to have worked under the 62-year-old.

"I've known him for eight years, I've been lucky enough to train with him," the Brazilian said of his head coach.

"He understands football very well and knows how to manage the locker room. It's normal that we all want to play. 

"This season we haven't had almost any problems, the coach leaves us alone, tells us the truth. That gives confidence to work."

Madrid goalkeeper Courtois, who is yet to win European football's biggest prize and was a runner-up to Los Blancos when on loan at Atletico Madrid in 2014, echoed the left-back's praise of Ancelotti, crediting him and his staff with fostering an excellent team spirit at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"The good dynamics of the team is due to the coaching staff, we train very well and we know that they make decisions," he said.

"But they manage it very well, everyone has played. That's why we are where we are."

Including Marcelo, Madrid have four different players in their squad to have made 100 or more Champions League appearances (Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo, and David Alaba). 

They could become the first team to name a starting XI in the competition's final featuring four or more players with a century of Champions League appearances, having fielded three in their 2018 final win over Jurgen Klopp's team (Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Ramos).

Meanwhile, Marcelo, who is out of contract at the end of this season, says any decision on whether he will extend his 15-year stay with Madrid will be made after the final.

While the 34-year-old was unwilling to give any hints as to where his future may lie, he referred to the Spanish giants as "the club of his life", and says the team has given him "everything" in his career.

"Everyone knows my passion and my love for the club of my life, which is Madrid," Marcelo added. 

"[Former club] Fluminense was in its time, it gave me everything at the beginning. Madrid has given me everything too. 

"I won't say what I think now. I don't want a statue, my story is made in Madrid, and I will continue to do so. After the final, we'll see what we do."

Karim Benzema is continuing to grow as a leader on and off the pitch after inspiring Real Madrid to the Champions League final, according to head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

The France international leads the scoring charts in this season's competition with 15 goals, which is just two behind Cristiano Ronaldo's all-time record in a single campaign.

That includes back-to-back hat-tricks in the knockout-stage wins over Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, and three goals across both legs against Manchester City in the semis.

Benzema is enjoying his best campaign yet in front of goal and will look to round off 2021-22 in style when Madrid face Liverpool in Saturday's final at Stade de France in Paris.

Asked what improvements he has seen in Benzema this season, Ancelotti said: "He has more personality and leadership now on and off the pitch.

"What has not changed is his quality, which is still top, and also his humility."

At 34 years and 160 days, Benzema is out to become the second-oldest player to score in the Champions League final after Paolo Maldini (36y 333d) for Milan – also against Liverpool in 2005.

The 34-year-old has happy memories of playing against the Reds, having opened the scoring in Madrid's 3-1 victory when the sides met in the 2018 final in Kyiv.

Marcelo, who was also on the pitch that day and is seeking an incredible 25th trophy with Los Blancos this weekend, has also been impressed by Benzema's leadership qualities.

"He has shown that [leadership], though it's not just been this season," Marcelo said at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"His character and presence has helped the team a lot. He doesn't even need to talk for that. He plays great football for us."

Isco's time at Real Madrid may be winding down, but the playmaker at least was able to see the funny side as he wished team-mate Marcelo a happy birthday.

Marcelo turned 34 on Thursday. The left-back joined Madrid in 2006 and has gone on to enjoy five LaLiga titles, two Copa del Rey triumphs and four Champions League crowns.

Isco, meanwhile, swiftly established himself as a key cog in Carlo Ancelotti's system upon joining Madrid from Malaga in 2013. 

However, the 30-year-old has struggled with injuries and was used sparingly by Zinedine Zidane in 2020-21.

Isco's struggles have persisted in Ancelotti's second spell in charge and he has been restricted to just 386 minutes of action this season, across 16 appearances in all competitions.

 

Just three of those have been starts, while Marcelo has played 17 times, totalling 790 minutes.

Isco, though, managed to see the humour in the situation while celebrating Marcelo's birthday.

"Happy birthday legend," a photo of Marcelo and Isco on the latter's Instagram story was captioned. "It was hard for me to find a photo of when we played!"

That being said, it should not have been too difficult for Isco to find a photo of the pair playing together.

Only last month, Marcelo started and Isco came on as a substitute in a victory over Espanyol, one that clinched the title. Both players seem unlikely to be at Madrid to help push for more trophies next season, though.

Real Madrid captain Marcelo became Los Blancos' most decorated player in history after securing the Spanish title on Saturday.

A first-half brace from Rodrygo coupled with second-half strikes by Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema sealed the top-flight crown for Madrid with a 4-0 win over Espanyol.

Madrid wrapped up LaLiga with four games to spare, their earliest domestic crown since the 1988-89 campaign (also four), while their 35 titles are more than any team in Europe's top five leagues.

Carlo Ancelotti created his own piece of history as he became the first coach to lift top-flight trophies in Europe's top five leagues (Spain, England, Germany, France and Italy).

Brazil international Marcelo also claimed a personal landmark with Madrid's success, the veteran full-back boasting the most trophy wins of any player for the club after his 24th triumph.

Marcelo's cabinet includes four Champions League crowns, four Club World Cups, three European Super Cups, six league titles, two Copa del Rey trophies and five Supercopas de Espana.

"It's the most incredible thing that a player can experience," said Marcelo, who has managed 545 appearances and scored 38 times for Madrid.

"We've won LaLiga as a result of the hard work from the whole team. We have to keep winning. This is the result of hard work, enjoyment, sacrifice... We've managed to win it by combining all the factors.
 
"It's the best thing there is to be able to celebrate with the fans after playing at home. It's the most incredible thing that a player can experience.

"It's a day to celebrate, even though we're aware that we've got an important game coming up, but it's OK to celebrate and remain focused and motivated for Wednesday."

The attention of Madrid will now turn to a Champions League semi-final second leg at home to Manchester City on Wednesday, with Pep Guardiola's side holding a slender 4-3 lead heading to the Spanish capital.

Carlo Ancelotti outlined his desire to win more trophies with Real Madrid after Los Blancos secured the LaLiga title with 4-0 victory over Espanyol.

A first-half Rodrygo double set Ancelotti's men on their way before strikes from Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema finished off the job in style at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Madrid claimed their 35th Spanish top-flight crown with four games to spare, their earliest title since the 1989-99 campaign.

Ancelotti became the first coach to win each of Europe's top five leagues and the Italian is hungry for further success in the Champions League, with Madrid 4-3 down in the semi-final heading into the second leg at home to Manchester City on Wednesday.

"A lot of emotion, we have met a challenge," he said on the pitch after Madrid sealed the title.

"The season has been spectacular. Lots of consistency. I have to thank the players for their work and their attitude. 

"Today we have to celebrate, not talk. I want to celebrate. It fills me with pride to win in the five major leagues. I can say that I like what I do. It means I've done pretty well. 

"I'm proud. I want to continue winning titles with Real Madrid. See you on Wednesday. I tell the fans on Wednesday we need this atmosphere."

Madrid captain Marcelo also expressed his pride as he dedicated the triumph to the Los Blancos faithful.

"An immense joy," the veteran full-back said. "We have won it as soon as possible and that is everyone's job. Very happy and we need to keep adding. It is the fruit of work, joy, sacrifice and many things. 

"That's why we've won before. Celebrating it with the fans is the best. Before we couldn't but today we can. The party is theirs. 

"It is the greatest joy, celebrating at the home of the best club in the world. Today we have to celebrate. We have an important game ahead, but nothing happens to celebrate well."

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois echoed his skipper Marcelo's sentiments.

"It is incredible to win the league with so many games remaining," the Belgium international said. "We made a great effort this year and we are very happy. 

"We have had a very important consistency in key games, but above all how we got through the difficult games we had after the Clasico [a 4-0 defeat at home to Barcelona]. 

"We beat Celta and Sevilla at their stadium, Getafe here at the Santiago Bernabeu... Many thanks to the fans for everything. Today the atmosphere was great. 

"We really wanted to celebrate it, because two years ago we couldn't celebrate it with the fans due to the pandemic. Go Madrid!"

Manchester City's search for a permanent striker appears to be ramping up, with a deal for Erling Haaland reportedly in the works.

City have not been able to properly replace Sergio Aguero despite leading the Premier League, and Haaland looks to be their primary target.

Details and discussion of the deal already appear to be in advanced stages, and City look to be best placed to sign the Norwegian.


TOP STORY – HAALAND SET FOR MAN CITY SWITCH

According to the Daily Mail, Haaland is set to move to Manchester City at the end of season, with personal terms already discussed and the framework for the deal already green-lit by City decision makers.

Haaland's father Alf-Inge played for the club but more importantly, City appear willing to meet Borussia Dortmund's release clause of £63million (€75.1million). 

The 21-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, would also be set to earn a significant portion of the transfer fee per reports, meaning the total outlay will reach nine figures.

Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have shown keen interest in the Norwegian striker, but the Premier League leaders look to be in pole position.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are looking at Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak as an alternative in the event they don't manage to sign Haaland from Dortmund . According to El Nacional, Xavi is an admirer of the 22-year-old Swedish striker, but they would face competition from the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal .

- Milan are set to make an offer for Mamadou Coulibaly from Monaco. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Rossoneri scout Geoffrey Moncada is particularly keen on the 17-year-old, who will be leaving Monaco at the end of the season.

- According to reports from Calciomercato, Napoli will look to begin talks with Sassuolo for talented attacker Hamed Junior Traore soon. Following the expiry of Juventus' right of first refusal clause, reports also say the Partenopei will want to move quickly.

- Real Madrid are close to confirming a contract extension for Luka Modric, per Marca reports, but are unwavering in their plans to offload Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Isco at the end of the season.

Real Madrid have confirmed another five players and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

Los Blancos revealed on Wednesday that Luka Modric and Marcelo had gone into quarantine after returning positive test results for the virus.

Having also seen positive cases appear in the basketball team, Madrid-based newspaper Marca reported on Thursday morning that the club were fearing a full-blown outbreak at their Valdebebas training base.

The first team now has at least seven members of the playing and coaching staff with coronavirus.

Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Andriy Lunin and Rodrygo are the latest players to have contracted COVID-19, while Carlo Ancelotti's son and technical assistant Davide was the one coach named on the list.

All will be absent for Madrid's final two matches of 2021 – the visit of Cadiz on Sunday and trip to Athletic Bilbao three days later.

However, there also remains the possibility that Madrid's matches are postponed either on medical grounds or due to a lack of players if there are further positive cases confirmed.

Real Madrid announced on Wednesday that Luka Modric and Marcelo have tested positive for coronavirus.

The experienced pair returned positive results in the latest round of routine squad tests and will now self-isolate.

Madrid, who beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 in the derby on Sunday, are next in action on Sunday, when they face Cadiz in LaLiga.

While Marcelo, 33, has started just once for Madrid this season, Modric remains a key part of Carlo Ancelotti's side.

The midfielder, who turned 36 in September, excelled against Atleti as Los Blancos moved eight points clear of Sevilla at the top of the table.

In total, he has played 18 times in all competitions this season.

Madrid face Athletic Bilbao on December 22 before resuming their season away to Getafe on January 2.

What does the future hold for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?

His position as Manchester United manager is becoming more uncertain after an embarrassing loss to Liverpool.

A former Premier League-winning boss, Antonio Conte, is believed to be waiting in the wings.

 

TOP STORY – CONTE EYEING UNITED ROLE?

The Manchester United job would be a priority for Antonio Conte should the Red Devils part with embattled manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Sportitalia journalist Gianluigi Longari.

Solskjaer is facing fierce criticism following Sunday's humiliating 5-0 defeat to Premier League rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Former Inter and Chelsea boss Conte has been linked with Newcastle United following talk of a pre-season move to Tottenham, while the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino could reportedly be considered for the United role.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is in talks with Manchester City, Tottenham and Juventus, per Gianluca Di Marzio. The Germany international is available on a free transfer at season's end amid reported interest from Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Marcelo wants to leave Madrid for Fluminense in 2022, claims El Nacional. Marcelo is out of contract at the end of the season.

- El Nacional says Barcelona have decided to sell United States international Sergino Dest. The 20-year-old has struggled for form at Camp Nou and he has been linked with Bayern.

Inter and Juve both identified Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic and Sampdoria's Mikkel Damsgaard, per Calciomercato. Vlahovic has also been linked with City, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Arsenal.

- Calciomercato claims Serie A high-flyers Milan are eyeing Brest midfielder Romain Faivre.

 

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