Real Madrid signed Vinicius Júnior in 2017 as a 16-year-old Brazilian starlet. Los Blancos mined South America for gems following their failure to land Neymar in 2013.
The team from the Spanish capital waited for the Brazilian to turn 18 for him to come to the Santiago Bernabeu. Then, the club waited a little more.
In his first three seasons, Vinicius only bagged eight first-team goals. Additionally, he tallied 23 assists, which is a solid mark for a teenager. Still, in many regards, he disappointed the majority of the Madridistas.
Now, it appears Real Madrid found their diamond as the winger begins to live up to his potential.
Vinicius Júnior’s breakout start to 2021/22
In the first five La Liga matches of this season, Vinicius almost equaled his previous three seasons in terms of goals. His previous season-high in league goals was four. That mark came in 2017/18 as a player for boyhood-club Flamengo.
One criticism that many wingers experience in their development is consistency in their end-product. The youngster’s early performances show he is adding that element to his game.
“Everyone sees that the only difference is that he is colder in front of goal,” Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti told AS.
“But, he is the same player in recent years, and I hope he continues to do so.”
The Brazilian international is also showing that he has a penchant for the dramatic. He scored the go-ahead goal in an eventual 5-2 triumph over Celta Vigo. The winger celebrated the goal jumping into the fans at the newly reconstructed Santiago Bernabeu. It was the 34-time LaLiga champions first game in their historic stadium in 560 days.
READ MORE: Where to find LaLiga on U.S. TV.
Although certainly a joyous moment, some did question the decision in thought of the strict COVID-19 regulations for fan involvement.
Real Madrid supporters are not the only ones that drew ire towards Vinicius Júnior in his first seasons.
Last October, Los Blancos trailed 2-0 at halftime to Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach in a Champions League group stage match.
As Real Madrid reentered the field, cameras picked up a conversation between two of Vinicius’s teammates. Karim Benzema shared some thoughts with his French compatriot Ferland Mendy.
“Brother, don’t pass the ball to him. On my mother’s life. He is playing against us.”
Benzema is not a selfless player. He played second fiddle to the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo. He sacrificed some of his goal-scoring prowess for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
In the match against Borussia Monchengladbach, the Brazilian played selfishly. Regularly, Vinicius took opponents on with dribbling rather than relying on his teammates. Vinicius did not let the game come to him.
After the incident, Benzema apologized, and they overcame the incident.
Trust The Process
Now, the forwards combine for one of Spain’s most lethal partnerships.
Also, the vice-captain speaks highly of Vinicius.
“Vini is a young player, but he has experience now,” Benzema told ESPN. “He’s helped us a lot so far this season scoring goals, he helps us with his pace, and he’ll help us all year.”
“If I can help him to triumph at Madrid I will because I believe in him, he’s a top player.”
Ancelotti also mentioned that less is more in the Brazilian’s progress. Vinicius Júnior is taking heed of his manager’s instructions.
“I have told him that to score goals he has to do it with a touch or two,” Ancelotti said in a preseason press conference.
“It is difficult to score with four or five touches.”
At just 21, Vinicius is the oldest out of the Brazilian attackers at the club. Rodrygo is 20; he scored the game-winning goal in Los Blanco’s Champions League match against Inter Milan. Reinier is 19 and on loan at Borussia Dortmund.
Vinicius’ development should give hope to them that they can also make an impact as starters at Real Madrid one day.
Author: Dan Adu-Gyamfi