Is it time for Real Madrid to give in to a Vinicius Junior loan?

Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid (Photo by Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid (Photo by Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Vinicius Junior can become a true star player for Real Madrid, but does he need more playing time to reach his ceiling?

In the 2019-2020 season, Vinicius Junior was frequently a game-changer for Real Madrid. Whether it was helping the team find the matchwinner in El Derbi or breaking the deadlock himself in El Clasico, Vini played a critical role in Los Merengues winning their 34th La Liga title.

This season, Vinicius started the campaign hot with goals against Real Valladolid and Levante that proved crucial to Real Madrid obtaining six points. But lately, he hasn’t been starting, nor has he been a priority off the bench despite the potential for him to be a game-changing sub.

While Madridistas sometimes get frustrated when Vinicius Junior misses a chance, loses the ball when attempting a dribble, or makes an ill-advised decision when building out of the back, the vast majority of the fanbase understands that these are normal growing pains with a young player. They see that the positives are far more numerous, such as Vini’s energy, skill on the ball, unselfishness, love for the team, ability to take direction from senior players, and effort. Vini is the kind of player Real Madrid fans should be proud to have in the side.

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At the same time, he’s not “in the side” nearly enough. For a young winger looking to build their confidence, especially in front of goal, playing time is of paramount importance. Vinicius has logged 774 minutes in La Liga this season, ranking him 12th among Real Madrid players. Nearly half of Vini’s 15 appearances have come off the bench.

Therefore, there are some fans hoping that Vinicius will get a loan deal so that he can start regularly and be a star player for a team. The logic is that if he ends up in the right situation, Vinicius can show his leadership and gain confidence by being a star player for a club and the guy everyone looks to.

Success builds more confidence, while pressure can often subtly undermine it. So at a smaller club with less pressure where Vinicius could stand out more, the thinking is that he could take rapid steps and then eventually come back to Real Madrid a superstar.

Real Madrid probably can’t afford to lose Vinicius Junior this winter

There are a couple of issues to consider, though. It is not easy to find an ideal loan, especially in the winter. Reinier Jesus and Takefusa Kubo are recent examples of how delicate a loan deal can be, especially for an attacking player. Whereas someone like Achraf Hakimi who plays as a fullback is always in need, wingers and attacking midfielders often face stiff competition for minutes. (That’s currently the case for Vinicius in Madrid!)

The second issue is with respect to Real Madrid. They are in the midst of a tough title race with Atletico Madrid, are in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and will need all the depth they can have in order to compete in the Copa del Rey, too. So if Real loan out Vinicius with Rodrygo Goes still injured, they will only have the oft-injured Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio as options on the left wing.

In a season with the threat of COVID-19 positive tests and physical injury due to the overload and proximity of matches, depth is of paramount importance. Despite Vinicius’ recent lack of involvement, he is still an important player to Real Madrid and someone who has repeatedly shown the ability to win matches for the club, even in a backup role. Real have already loaned out their second-best striker in Luka Jovic, so doing the same with Vini is a risk. It is, essentially, the same as the discussion we had last winter about a possible Vinicius move.

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That said, this is a situation to monitor. If, after the season ends, Vinicius still doesn’t play a big enough role in the side, Real Madrid could start an early “loan search” and closely evaluate loan proposals from teams to see how serious they are of integrating Vinicius into their side. And then, if they find the right fit, perhaps Real decide it is worth the risk to allow Vini to spread his wings with a smaller, but still significant, European club and take a giant leap – instead of a small step – to true stardom.