Struck by inconsistency and two massive departures, Los Blancos have been reduced to a shadow of their former ruthless selves. Yet, amid all the hopelessness and against all odds, an 18-year-old has emerged as their brightest and most vivid spark.
Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo were two of the most prolific members of Real Madrid. So, after their successive departures, Los Blancos were forced to fall back upon the most experienced members of the squad. Gareth Bale, who was bound to become the ‘King of Madrid’ after Ronaldo’s departure, failed to live up to the billing, handing one lanky Brazilian teenager an opportunity he couldn’t even dream of.
Real Madrid 0-0 Sevilla HT
Goalless at the break at the Bernabeu, where Vinicius Junior has attempted more shots (3) and completed more dribbles (3) than any other player.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 19, 2019
The former Flamengo forward always dreamt of donning the royal white. So, when the opportunity finally presented itself in 2017, he couldn’t help himself from jumping the gun.
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“Yes, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona among others,” he told Marca when asked if there had been inquiries from other clubs.
“They were always in touch with us. In the end, we waited for the right time and the right team.”
“I felt that I was making my boyhood dream come true, that I was going to a club that all the best players in the world want to be at. The best are there. I can’t explain the happiness I felt when I signed the contract with Real Madrid,” said the youngster.
During Madrid’s pre-season games, Vinicius Jr finally got the opportunity to stretch his legs. Julen Lopetegui certainly took notes but didn’t think he was ready for real, competitive football. Over the first 10 La Liga games, he could only manage to play 12 minutes of football, coming off the bench against Atletico Madrid and Alaves, respectively. Lopetugui’s ill-fated Bernabeu stint ended with the crushing 5-1 defeat at Barcelona, and with it, Vinicius’ frustrating spell on the sidelines.
— RMadridHome (@RMadridHome_) January 15, 2019
Santiago Solari, straightaway, showed more faith in the player than Lopetegui ever did, and started him in the Copa del Rey clash against UD Melilla. The Brazilian rewarded his coach’s faith with a brace of assists, showing first signs of his quality on the ball. He once again impressed in the second leg, this time netting his first senior goal for Real Madrid.
His first La Liga start came earlier in January, in the 2-0 home defeat to Real Sociedad. Los Blancos were all over the place and produced one of their worst performances of the current campaign, but Vinicius, once again, stood out with his daunting runs and never-ending enthusiasm. In the first leg of the Copa del Rey last-16 clash against Leganes, the Brazilian dropped one of his best performances, pitching in with a goal and an assist as Madrid cruised to a 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Watching Real Madrid these days is like being in an abusive relationship. But this boy gives me hope. They just need to emphasise on developing his striking ability. Vinicius Jr is the future of Real Madrid. pic.twitter.com/8SfrI4JHed
— #BIKOLIVES ✊🏾✋🏾 (@azuk1le) January 19, 2019
Over the last few weeks, Vinicius Junior has been one of the first names on Solari’s team sheet. It is as if he knows the value of every single minute as a Real Madrid player, knows just how quickly it could all fade away.
The teenager, in no way, is the most polished player in the star-studded Real Madrid squad. He also isn’t the most dependable. But the youngster, most definitely, seems like the most courageous. He still needs to work a lot on his touches, his movement, and most of all, his finishing. But the temperament he has shown, so far, has really been exemplary. Vinicius Junior may or may not be the solution to all of Real Madrid’s problems, but the Brazilian, at the very least, makes all Madridistas hope for the improbable; makes them believe that it’s never over until the fat lady sings.