When Real Madrid announced their latest signing in May 2017, eyebrows were raised across the sporting world. It was not the name, reputation or quality that drew surprise, with Vinicius Junior said to be among the brightest young talents in Brazilian football. But it was the fee and context of the deal which opened eyes.
Madrid had triggered the forward’s €45m release clause despite the fact he had made his professional debut for Flamengo only a fortnight earlier. At the time it was the second highest fee for a Brazilian player, behind only Neymar’s switch from Santos to Barcelona.
Vinicius could only link-up with the European champions this summer after turning 18 and by that stage he had thrived in Brazil’s top flight and with his nation’s youth teams. With the transfer market spiraling out of control following his compatriot Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain, the fee for the teenager looked increasingly like a savvy piece of business by Madrid.
His first few months in the Spanish capital have certainly proved action-packed, even if he is yet to make his competitive debut in the first-team for Julen Lopetegui’s side. He keeps generating headlines, firstly for his participation in the club’s Castilla team in the third tier and then for the recent game against Atletico Madrid’s B team. The prodigy netted twice in the opening half-hour before being bitten on the back of the head by his opponent’s captain Tachi.
The late summer arrival of Mariano Diaz to Madrid has apparently done further damage to Vinicius’s chances of first-team action and the headline in Thursday’s edition of Marca suggested he could return to Flamengo on loan in January. He had become accustomed to playing in front of 80,000 spectators in Brazil’s top flight and now was participating in games where the attendances are regularly only a fraction of that.
His career appears to be at another crossroads despite the fact he is only 18 but surely a move back to his home nation would curtail his development and continuity at Madrid. The Spanish season is grueling and with the addition of European football and the return of the Copa del Rey, there will be plenty of chances for him to shine in the first-team.
It is inevitable that Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Mariano Diaz will need to be rotated and may even pick up injuries. Borja Mayoral has departed on loan and despite plenty of talent being available, Madrid’s attacking options may be stretched in the busier sections of the campaign. Vinicius must remain patient and take his chances when they arrive.
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