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Published on March 19th, 2017 | by BrazilStats

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Can Vinicius Junior become Brazil’s latest teen sensation?

The conveyor belt of young striking talent in Brazil has just produces another fine footballer – but should Vinicius Junior stay in Brazil to learn his trade?

Vinicius Junior is the name of the new sensation in Brazilian football. After Neymar and Gabriel Jesus’ departure to Europe, all eyes are now on the Flamengo prodigy – with La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona already expressing their interest in the 16-year old. But should the Brazilian rush his move to Europe, or try and prove himself in the South American continent first?

One thing is for sure, Vinicius cannot sign a pro-contract with any European club before he turns 18, in July 2018. However, that does not prevent him from agreeing terms earlier on – which makes the rumors linking him with a foreign move, even more exciting. Having scored seven goals and provided four assists in eight games, Vinicius’ performances at the under-17 South American championships have definitely increased the hype surrounding him.

His number one idol, countryman Neymar, has sent him a video message on the same day as rumors linking him with FC Barcelona emerged from Spanish press. Was it simply a coincidence, or is this some sort of tactic from the Catalans to take advantage of the Flamengo attacker’s admiration to Neymar, in order to secure the new jewel of Brazilian football?

Vinicius’ style of play has already drawn comparisons with Ronaldinho and Neymar, with his skills, tricks, improvisation, and willingness to entertain the fans at every possible opportunity. The rising attacker is very efficient in front of goal and has high end-product to back him up. His favorite position is to operate on the left-hand side, with freedom to cut-in to a more central position, or to make diagonal runs behind the back of defenders into the penalty area – where he has proven to be clinical, both for Flamengo in the prestigious under 20 Copinha tournament, as well as for Brazil’s national team in the Sul-Americano. 

Stylistically, he is very similar to Neymar – however, physically much stronger in duels, but not as magical in terms close control, in comparison to his idol when he had the same age. Whether he can be as good as Neymar, is still very early to answer. But it’s not premature at all, in my estimation, to recognize that the youngster has all the attributes needed to become the next Brazilian great.

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For his age, he is clearly superior to everyone else in the country. Before Gabriel Jesus made his debut for Palmeiras’ first team, there was a lot of hype surrounding him based on what he achieved in the youth team – and when the transition occurred, he quickly lived up to the expectations and found himself 18-months-later, as the number nine for Brazil’s national team, and the focal point of Pep Guardiola’s attack, at Manchester City.

You know what’s the scary part? It’s that Vinicius for his age, is quite clearly even more impressive than Gabriel was…And that is perhaps why, Real Madrid do not want to make the mistake of missing-out on another Brazilian talent.

If Vinicius leaves to Spain in 2018, he would risk of being just another player in the ranks of Barcelona or Madrid. However, if he waits until he is 21, while developing at the most popular club in Brazil, he will not only gain a lot of recognition from their large fanbase, but also earn the chance to develop his talent while playing at a high level in the Brazilian league and the Copa Libertadores.

Flamengo is as big as a club could get in Brazil, and with their new promising project, they seem ready to win major cups again. The youngster would have the chance to write his name in their history books and become their new idol – just like Zico, Romario and Dejan Petkovic.

For in the end, if Vinicius really wanted to follow the footsteps of his idol, he should remember that Neymar only left to Europe at 21, after he had won so many cups for Santos including the Libertadores, consequently becoming one of the Paulista club’s many idols, such as the king Pelé, Pepe, and Coutinho. Will the Mengão prodigy live-up to his potential and some day compete with Neymar, in an all-Brazilian duel for the Ballon D’or?

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