While Vinicius Junior hasn’t been much of a threat to score goals at Real Madrid, some of the criticism and the doubts he has are unfair and premature because he is just a 19-year-old. He does have enough confidence to deliver incredible plays. All he needs is more ruthlessness as a finisher in front of the goal posts. Real Madrid also needs to have more patience.
Vinicius Junior was born on July 12th, 2000 in Sao Goncalo, Brazil and he joined Flamengo youth squad in 2010. It may come as a shock that he began his career as a defender and he made his Under-15 debut for the team in 2013. Just one year later he went to England to join Reading. He returned to his native Brazil without making a single appearance for Reading’s senior squad but he was very impressive with their U-21 team, finishing with 21 goals in 22 games.
Real Madrid secured his signing on July 20th, 2018 after paying €46 million to Flamengo in 2017. In his first season with them he dealt with some injuries but still scored six goals in 23 games with Real Madrid Castilla and Real Madrid in 2018-19.
The 19-year-old has just eight starts in La Liga this season, even with Real Madrid dealing with injuries to key midfielders and strikers but head coach Zinedine Zidane insisted that Vinicius Junior is very important for Real Madrid. Zidane at one point claimed that he will “count on” the Brazilian this season and indeed in the future. Vinicius Junior even asked Zidane for more playing time in December, looking to build on what he did during his debut season and just before COVID-19 struck, suspending play in La Liga, he was getting more opportunities to display his unique talent.
An example of that was the March 1st game against FC Barcelona. That El Clásico effort can change the course of Vinicius Junior’s career in Real Madrid. He hadn’t scored in La Liga since September and he made just six starts in La Liga (zero in 2020) before that game but Zidane gave him a chance against Manchester City in the first leg of the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League and then he didn’t disappoint against Barça. Vinicius Junior would score a goal in the 2-0 win and break Lionel Messi’s record as the youngest player to score in El Clásico this century.
“In the first half I had three chances to shoot and I passed,” Vinicius Junior told reporters after the game. “Casemiro told me I had to shoot more. I want to make the fans happy,” he added.
Real Madrid legend Emilio Butragueño explained why Vinicius Junior has had some struggles at Real Madrid: “You have to play in this stadium and so young: he creates chances permanently and that’s not at all easy.” Butragueño added: “Hopefully this is a liberation for him.”