Real Madrid have paid a lot of money for what they think is a future Brazilian star, but it is still too early for Vinícius Júnior to move to La Liga
Vinícius Júnior has gained a lot of recognition over the past few months after becoming the most expensive teenager in football history, with Real Madrid securing his services for around $55 million. The Spanish giants were smart in purchasing the youngster before his transfer fee doubles in two years, but the Brazil U17 international is still far from being good enough to improve Zidane’s squad just now.
Flamengo have a history of unearthing football greats, and Zico is probably the best example of that. Three Brazilian league titles, a Copa Libertadores and an Intercontinental Cup are just a few achievements that helped ‘o galinho de quintinho’ make his name at the most popular club in Brazilian football. As Vinicius wore his idol’s iconic number ten shirt in a couple of regional state league matches at the beginning of the year, it was normal that the pressure was always going to build on the 17-year-old.
Vinicius Júnior received heavy criticism as he made his Flamengo debut last year. A series of disappointing first few matches did not help his case, especially as the failures emerged right after his stunning deal with Real Madrid, so he was an easy target for the press and rival fans. The Carioca giants had a very disappointing season in general, which only increased the pressure to deliver results, so the pragmatic Colombian manager Reinaldo Rueda had to limit the teenager’s game-time.
Despite that, Vinicius showed a lot of promising signs and was even decisive in helping Flamengo reach the Sudamericano final, which they eventually lost to Argentina’s Independiente. Criticism rose again against the youngster, but with the start of this new season under the command of former club idol Paulo César Carpegiani, the skillful attacker has experienced his best form as a professional and has scored three goals in three successive games, reaching a total of four strikes, which has already surpassed his tally from last season.
Vinicius JR has gained a lot of momentum over the past few weeks, but it should not be forgotten that the regional state leagues in Brazil are considerably weaker than the Brazilian league itself – which usually starts in late April or early May. So conclusions cannot be drawn yet, although the importance of VJR is very noticeable to this Flamengo side, and his influence continues to grow game after game.
However, his consistency is still a question mark, as the Carioca derby against Fluminense suggests. The youngster faded for the majority of the game and had little to no effect on the outcome, as the Mengão suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat. After getting hyped by press in recent days, the criticism is automatically back. And so on.
There is no doubt that Vinicius Júnior has the potential to become one of the best Brazilian footballers of his generation, and mark his name in the history books of the national team, but the most important factor will be his ability to withstand the pressure as well as do his best to postpone a move to Madrid as much as possible, so that he doesn’t end up warming the bench, just like Gabigol did at Internazionale.