Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr has a lot of potential.
The Brazilian electrified the Bernabéu faithful in a bleak 18/19 campaign, and Vinicius Junior has battled to win his place back this season. But just how far can the 19-year-old Real Madrid forward go?
Often lambasted for his lack of end product, it seems that many have blurred the lines a little when it comes to Vinicius. The former Flamengo star began this season with higher expectations following his impressive start to life in Spain. However, as the season progressed, Vinicius fell victim to the rapid ascent and adulation of his compatriot – Rodrygo Goes.
The route to a spot in the starting eleven had already become a tougher prospect, following the signing of Eden Hazard. With a reduction in appearances and also being shifted over to the right, Vinicius struggled in his first few forays into the 19/20 season.
After Rodrygo began to showcase his own fantastic potential – the ex-Santos man was now the new shiny toy that everyone was excited about. In turn, Vinicius found himself being touted for loans, as he now faced an uphill battle to remind the footballing world just what he can do.
To truly understand just how big a gem Vinicius is, fans ought to cast their mind back to his emergence and really analyse just what he did. The Real Madrid side of 18/19 had just been relieved of their pillar and main man, Cristiano Ronaldo. Los Blancos were now soul searching, they were that star who stood out, and to fill that void? It was nigh on impossible for anyone of any age – but up stepped 18-year-old Vinicius Jr, out of nowhere.
Few knew what to really expect of the youngster. He wasn’t given much of a chance by Julen Lopetegui, who gave him just a mere few minutes against Atletico Madrid. Under Santi Solari however, Vini was being consistently utilised and he ensured to make the most of it.
He showed the world his flair – dazzling both his opponents and the crowd. Although, this was against a side many dismissed. Throughout the campaign, he continually proved he is capable of utter brilliance. The Brazilian had established defenders like Pique and Godin back-tracking, this was a young and raw player in his first season of European top-flight football.
The 18/19 season was a very dark one in the recent chapters of Real Madrid’s history – however, Vinicius delivered a message to Madridistas: the future is extremely bright.
Vinicius contributed towards a goal every other game during his opening season (15 G/A in 31 apps). Considering how often he was criticised for his lack of end product, he put up a respectable season in that regard. Perhaps, more importantly, it looks even more understandable with further added context. The Brazilian scored his 15th senior goal, two months after his 19th birthday.
Cristiano Ronaldo took another seven months to score his 15th goal at 19 years of age, Leo Messi? He took a further two months than Vinicius did. No, this isn’t to say he is better than they were at that age – it is simply to state that fine-tuning these things takes time, it doesn’t occur overnight. Some have it nailed down early, others take a little longer – however, to base Vini’s ceiling merely off his goal contributing ability is truly pigeonholing a very talented young star.
What Vinicius did in his maiden season at Real Madrid is no mean feat. The Spanish club is seen as a holy grail – the pinnacle. For a young, inexperienced kid to come in and take the bull by the horns and not even flinch at that prospect? That is not something an ordinary talent would be capable of.
We’ve seen time and time again, Vinicius is a man for the big occasion and yet – he is still so young. Recall the reaction, to Marco Asensio when he shirked the idea of being a key component at Real Madrid. Why aren’t those same critics praising Vinicius’ willingness to be a key component? Against Atletico Madrid this season, he came on and help set-up the winner, against Barcelona, he dazzled his opponents and scored too – lucky or not, he stepped up, he dared to do.
On the pitch this season, Vinicius has created more chances than Isco in far fewer games. He has the highest successful dribbles rate per 90 minutes and attempts the second-highest amount, only after Eden Hazard.
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He may not be perfect, he may still be a little green – but Vinicius Jr is a mercurial talent that is capable of leading this team into the next era and beyond.