Real Madrid: Why Vinicius Junior is the most exciting player to watch on the planet

There are thousands of footballers playing across the top leagues in Europe and each footballer has their own unique style of play, playing for teams that have different requirements of profiles for their respective systems. But we can classify some players into different categories by identifying some common traits of players. And it is a matter of personal opinion because not every fan can analyse a player in the same way as others and everyone has their own opinion on different players.

In the way I see it, Luka Modric and Lionel Messi belong to the category of aesthetically pleasing players, with the two legends notably being the symbol of that category. Similarly, Toni Kroos and Sergio Busquets are players who act like the brain of a team, who make you understand and analyse the game from a different perspective, and make us realise that a simple action of theirs has a much bigger ulterior motive.

Then there are workhorses like N’Golo Kante, Fede Valverde and Leon Goretzka, whose energy and hard work on the field never goes unnoticed. And there are players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, who appear like larger than life personalities and are known more for their mentality than their elite skill-set, and have the ability to make things happen on the field with sheer will power.

But above all, there is a category of players who can make every fan say wow and are crowd pullers. They have the ability to attract people who don’t even watch football. Every move of theirs will increase the decibel levels inside the stadium, and every fan gets excited whenever those players have the ball at their feet. We can label that category as “exciting players”, or exciting forwards to be more precise.

What makes Vinicius Junior so exciting?

How would you define these exciting players? For me, exciting players are somebody who can entertain you as well as win the game for their teams. They are a perfect blend of flair and productivity. They will take on players, generate a wave of excitement, make an opponent think twice and also help the team score goals. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in their prime are perfect examples for exciting players, and drew millions of people towards this incredible sport. Even Gareth Bale in his prime is a perfect example.

In the current generation, Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe, Jadon Sancho, and Federico Chiesa are the perfect examples of exciting players. Vinicius Jr is the latest entrant into this category, with his magnificent start to the 2021/22 season enough to prove the point. You can easily sense the roar in the Bernabeu when he takes on a player, and you can also sense the change in the voice of the commentators when Vini is in action. He simply makes you sit on the edge of your seat.

Until the 2020/21 season, one could never compare Vini to the other top youngsters. He was brilliant in 1v1 situations and was the same electric player that he is today, but he simply lacked the end product that can set him apart from the rest. There was always a belief that he could become a complete package if he works on his finishing. And goodness, he did improve so much that one could call it an overnight change.

We can compare Vini’s sudden maturity to that of Cristiano Ronaldo’s improvement, way back in 2006. Ronaldo had all the tricks in his bag, which he used to showboat a lot in his first three seasons at Manchester United, but was criticised a lot due to a lack of regular end product and some other factors. But from 2006/07, he became a different player altogether, with the player focusing more on producing goals and gave greater priority to the needs of the team. Vini’s 2021/22 journey has been somewhat similar, and coincidentally both the players look more mature after an unsuccessful international tournament. (Cristiano’s Portugal lost to France in the 2006 World Cup semi-final, and Brazil lost to Argentina in this year’s Copa America).

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Vinicius Junior is in top form for Real Madrid

And looking at his current form, I think it is safe to argue that Vinicius might be the most exciting player to watch at the moment. Strikers like Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema might have better numbers than the Brazilian, but here we are talking about exciting players and not effective players, so it is better to exclude them from the debate.

Compared to other players like Neymar and Mbappe, Vini hasn’t played at this level for a long time, and he is just getting started. But the point of this article is about judging players at this moment, which means we have to take the current form into consideration. Neymar always has the ability to influence the games on his own, but of late he hasn’t been able to be highly efficient before the goal.

Jadon Sancho has been out of form this season, while there is a need for Chiesa to polish his dribbling and decision-making. It is really a close call in the case of Mbappe, but watching them closely for a lot of time, I think Vinicius’ superior 1v1 abilities give him an edge over the Frenchman, purely with regards to the excitement factor. The numbers from FBRef involving a comparison between Neymar, Mbappe, and Vinicius show that Vini is a superior ball carrier, with him leading in both the number of carries and the progressive distance.

I have used numbers here to talk about the dribbling efficiency, but I’m not a huge fan of using numbers everytime, and give greater priority to the eye test, after which I wanted to start this debate of Vini being the most exciting player. This is a subjective debate where not everything can be concluded by using facts. We have looked at the comparison of Vini with other players, but let us have a look at what makes Vini special and the most exciting player.

What separates Vini from the rest

For me, it is definitely Vinicius’ dribbling style that sets him apart. There are tight space dribblers like Brahim, and there are dribblers suited for the classic winger roles, like Rodrygo and Asensio. But Vini belongs to the different breed of explosive dribblers, who can truly explode past defenders. Having those physical attributes is a blessing, but players become top players only when they utilise their attributes to perfection. And Vini has learned that art, and focused on the need to polish his first touch, which made him an effective and successful dribbler who is pleasing to the eye.

Fans often like to see open games – not games in which teams park buses. People want to watch games where players run from one end to the other, instead of games where players are practically immovable from their own box. Vini often faces teams that park the bus, yet he manages to make the game entertaining with his movement and counter-attacking nature.

He always looks to exploit the space behind the backline, and takes the ball into the empty grass fields, which are the zones where players can make something happen. He has the ability to make games interesting single-handedly. That in itself is enough to explain the point of Vinicius being the most exciting player to watch on the planet, at the moment.