While Real Madrid have a striking problem up front, an answer could be sitting on the bench – or in the stands. Could Vinícius Júnior be the man for Madrid?
Vinícius Júnior is widely regarded as the biggest rising U-20 talent in Brazil. Real Madrid’s purchase of the player for $50 million, making him the most expensive teenager in football history, helped raise the hype regarding him. But could playing at such a huge club hinder a youngster’s progress? Should the 18-year-old look for a January loan move?
When Vinícius Júnior left Flamengo and joined Real Madrid right in time for pre-season, many thought the Brazilian made a terrible mistake which would turn out to be bad for his development. The Carioca giants had offered him constant playing time in both the Brazilian league and the Copa Libertadores, the highest level in the South America. The plan in Spain was that he joined the ‘B’ team – Castilla – competing in the third Spanish division.
Vinícius enjoyed an impressive pre-season against the likes of Manchester United, Juventus, AC Milan and AS Roma. He gained further momentum as he made his official debut for Castilla, banging in goals and generated several beautiful plays. The youngster gaining the attention of fans as well as first team manager, Julen Lopetegui, who attended the Madrid derby, witnessing his charge pull off a man-of-the-match performance.
With some of Real Madrid’s top stars under-performing and the team not achieving results, the pressure has been on the Spanish manager. Fans were asking for a promotion to Vinícius Júnior. Their wish was finally granted, with the Brazilian firstly making the bench for the first time against Sevilla in a 3-0 defeat in mid-week. Days later he finally made his official Santiago Bernabéu debut in the Madrid derby. Despite coming on in the dying moments, he left a good impression in a match where Gareth Bale suffered injury, and Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez failed to deliver.
With Bale and Isco’s injury as well as the dip in form of other attackers, Vinícius is officially in Real Madrid’s squad that traveled to meet CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League. There is a good chance of a substitute appearance, perhaps even a start.
Right now it seems that Real Madrid is handling Vinícius Júnior in the best way possible. What the youngster needs to do is obvious. It’s give it his best show and try to seize the first-team opportunities he will get from now until January. If he proves that he is at that level, then that would be the best possible scenario – staying and finishing the season being an important squad member. Otherwise, a loan move in January to another La Liga side would be ideal to help him settle in to Europe. Ronaldo who recently became the majority stakeholder at Real Valladolid is known to be a big fan of Vini, making a loan move more than logical.
Right now, Vinícius Júnior has got the world at his feet. The future of his professional development completely depends on him, with all the other necessary conditions for success already available at the biggest club in the world.