Vinicius Junior has been under the microscope after his performance in the 2020-21 season. Playing for a club like REAL MADRID at such an early age is something which every kid dreams of, but the pressure is deadly which can change the course of your football career.
This 21-year-old forward scored six goals in 23 games for Real Madrid Castilla and Real Madrid during their 2018-19 campaign after coming over from Flamengo. When Zidane was in charge he insisted that Vinicius Junior is an important player for Real Madrid and claimed that he will “count on” him and he is indeed the future.
Vinicius Junior is one of those players that’s equally exhilarating and exasperating. He can be like that in the same game and sometimes in the same move. He can make you embrace his play and then do something that erases the good he did.
Taking the first leg of the 2020 Champions League Round of 16 games against Manchester City as an example, Vinicius was a couple of yards away from the goal line and still missed. He then laid down with his arms and legs stretched out while the entire Santiago Bernabèu was in disbelief. Real Madrid lost the game 2-1 and that miss turned out to be a crucial one.
But he’s improving which has been eminent against Levante where he produced two-career best goals within 26 minutes of joining the fray to salvage a 3-3 draw. What’s much more remarkable about this young Brazilian isn’t that he can draw a defender at high speed and nonchalantly cut the ball past an advancing goalkeeper without any favourable angle to speak of. Or that he can use the laces of his boots to loft a delicate dink into the far top corner to complete the point-saving brace of goals.
Remarkably, so many have stubbornly taken an eternity to realise that Vinicius isn’t just blessed with remarkable talent – he’s improving, he’s working hard at the things he was lacking, and his statistics are startling as a Left-wing forward.
He might not have stats like Mbappe or Halland but at the age of 21, Vinicius has a goal and assist-per-minute ratio in senior club Football that are either equal to or better than that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at the same age. By the time Messi was 21, he’d scored 42 goals and made 24 assists and took 7,369 minutes. While Ronaldo had scored 27 goals and produced 27 assists in 9,552 minutes.
They were phenomenal in the making and there was zero criticism reporting of Messi, while the worst that was said about Ronaldo was that he loved a step-over almost as much as a cross or a goal. None can’t even sniff that type of reverence and patience when it comes to Vinicius.
The much-criticised man who wears the No.20 shirt for Real Madrid has scored 31 senior goals for Flamengo and Madrid ( Messi 42, Cristiano 27). It’s taken him 9,007 minutes in Brazil and Spain.
Given the absolute truth the trust, continuity, development, advice and strategic equilibrium matter far more than when you are young, creative and in the glare of the media spotlight for the first time, Vinicius had it far tougher than anyone.
The statistical comparison between Ronaldo and Messi may shock many of his critics, but there’s no point in suggesting that the Brazilian might emulate his peers from Argentina and Portugal who have gone on to rip up the history books.
Real Madrid fans love someone who never gives up, especially if they find success. Only time will tell if Vinicius Junior can do that. The talent is there he just needs to develop the mental aptitude to finish his opportunities to score.