Football has no memory. It is a machine that devours players. Whoever moves does not appear in the photo that teams take before matches. Militao has portrayed Sergio Ramos in that snapshot. On the pitch he has also been adding to an unstable defence to become an important part of a club that is fighting for La Liga and the Champions League in May.
Militao joined Real Madrid in 2018 from Porto. The €50million transfer fee and that surname provided plenty of scope for all sorts of jokes and criticism. An unknown in Spain and widely recognised in Portugal as a great centre-back. Madrid paid dearly, as always, and waited for the flute of performance to sound, as always. And it did.
Éder Militao's first few games in memory were that of a player sweating excessively, nervous, badly positioned... A calamity of the kind that the Bernabéu eats up in two afternoons and never again. But Di Stéfano and the lack of whistles in the stands made the Brazilian gain confidence. We will never know if Zidane trusted him or if he had no choice but to field him. Nor will we ever know about all the players he is giving minutes to this season due to the absence of the first-choice players. What we do know is that Militao and the rest of the second team are leaving everything they have on the pitch. Even if Marcelo, Hazard or Isco don't have much to offer.
Osasuna was just another day of Militao's military service at Real Madrid. His training as a future centre-back will come to an end at the end of the season and, perhaps, with some silverware. There is no doubt about his leadership. He has surpassed in potential Varane himself who learned everything from his nights of glory alongside Sergio Ramos.
The Sevilla centre-back is counting down the days until he says goodbye. Some say he has already said goodbye to the squad. Others, that Real Madrid have let him leave because it was the best time. In any case, he will leave as all legends do: through the back door and, if he's smart, quietly to return home one day.
The injury, the operation, the recovery... Ramos thought that his absence was going to be the White debacle. The sinking of the ship that was taking on water in November. A reason to sign the renewal he wanted. But Zidane, his flower, the squad and that bit of luck that you have to know how to look for have made Ramos forget about the present.
Zidane can count on the Sevillian again against Chelsea. Varane pulled out of the match against Osasuna with discomfort. If he does not recover, Ramos has options to play, although it would be a risk because he does not have the rhythm of a Champions League semi-final. The problem will be whether Militao and Varane are available. Zidane will choose them and Ramos to the bench will be sold on the grounds that he doesn't have the "sporting discharge" that Karanka invented one day.
The end of the season will be exciting for Real Madrid. With two titles just a handful of games away. Win or lose, the season will be heroic. The shield covering the sporting shortcomings in which Florentino Pérez has plunged the team. A squad in the hands of more than just a coach.
Then comes the usual marketing of every summer, but in a bitter version. If Ramos stays, it's because Real Madrid are selling Varane, who wants to leave. There is also the option of both of them leaving, Alaba arriving and together with Militao and Nacho they will be the defence for 21-22. Marcelo should also leave because his performance is no longer up to standard. At least he is not airing his future in the media to sell victimhood. Isco is not good enough either and Juventus have taken notice of him. The rest is in the hands of the Higher Self and his ability to balance a squad while he finishes the stadium and negotiates for a new superstar.
What there is no doubt about is that the end of the season is for Militao. The man from Sertãozinho (Sao Paulo) has retired Ramos without realising it.