On Friday, Madrid’s two main sports newspapers – Marca and Diario AS – both published the same poll, with both returning overwhelming verdicts. The question was very simple: ‘Should Vinicius Junior start for Real Madrid in their next league game, against Real Valladolid?’ In Marca, 87% of respondents voted ‘Yes’ while in AS, the figure was 90%.
The question came in light of the Brazilian’s first ever start for Los Blancos as he led the line in Wedensday’s 4-0 Copa del Rey victory at Melilla. The 18-year-old did not find the net in the rout, but he played superbly and showed not only great promise but a degree of maturity.
In a season which has lurched from one crisis to the next for the European champions, the club and the fans have been desperate for some positive news. The teenager appears to be doing his level best to provide it, with rave reviews from interim coach Santiago Solari. “He has a big future at this club,” the Argentine claimed. “He is still very young, but he is developing and maturing into a star.”
It was such glowing reports which prompted Madrid to pay Flamengo €45m for his services last year, with reports in Cadena Cope stating they paid a further €8m to his agent and €8m to his family. At the time the deal was struck, the player had taken part in only five professional matches. The same report claimed Barcelona had a deal in place before the Spanish capital side trumped it.
Madrid fans are excited by Vinicius’s freshness and work rate, desperately needed to reinvigorate an attack who had netted just four times in seven matches. “I have shown my style, I like to play direct and take on my opponents, I am always looking to score,” Vinicius told Fox Sports after his display in Melilla. “It was an important moment in my career for the first start for this great club, I want to thank everyone who made this possible and helped my adaptation.”
Whilst the fee was scoffed upon at the time, due to his lack of experience, the list of doubters on Vinicius is growing smaller by the week. Much talk has been centred on Madrid’s lack of investment in their attack following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure but that in itself affords the teenage talent a huge opportunity.
Solari knows his time in the Madrid hotseat may be short, but should he launch the career of this starlet at the club in earnest he may well be remembered for years to come.
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