Eyebrows were raised when Real Madrid poached 17-year-old Vinicius Jr from Flamengo in the summer of 2017 for an eye-watering €46 million. Too young to even join Los Blanco’s at the time of his transfer due to international transfer restrictions, he arrived in the Spanish capital in 2018 with the weight of the world’s heavy expectations on his shoulders.
Cristiano Ronaldo had just left for Turin, leaving a void on the left flank, and it was anticipated that Vinicius would replace him. Four years later, it would appear that those expectations have been fulfilled. Of course, Vinicius is still far from matching the heights that Ronaldo achieved with the club but it is tough not to see shades of his predecessor rooted in his playstyle.
Hypnotizing trickery, cold-bloodedness in front of goal, and a visible clutch gene are qualities that the two share, and it is difficult not to get impassioned just considering the potential that the young man possesses. It hasn’t always been straightforward for Vinicius. His talent was clear, but just eight league goals in his first three campaigns in Madrid led to some having their doubts, including his teammates.
A testament to his robust and shrewd character, Vinicius was able to bury the hatchet and used it as motivation to progress. In the 2021/22 campaign, there hasn’t been a deadlier duo in world football than the young Brazilian and the French virtuoso, as they combined for over an immense 100 goals and assists between them.
This year, the Brazilian has gone from strength to strength. His rise has been meteoric. He started the season with a point to prove and hasn’t looked back since. A newly discovered cut-throat edge to his game has accompanied his celebrated, mazy runs and mesmerizing dribbling.
The Brazilian winger racked up 17 La Liga goals and 10 assists and bamboozled fans and opposition defences alike with flicks, chops and nutmegs. He ranks in the 99th percentile for progressive carries and touches in the attacking penalty box over the last year.
Only 21 years old with the world at his fingertips, Vinicius Junior is undoubtedly one of the most enthralling entertainers in football. He has helped aficionados of this distinguished club quickly forget about the Kylian Mbappe saga and he is embracing his newly entrusted responsibilities like a player that has the hallmarks of a true footballing great. He simply is the ‘Real’ deal.
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