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Vinicius Junior 2019/20 – scout report

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.

Real Madrid

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.”

Brazil national team

In 2015 Vinicius Junior achieved stardom in the international stage, scoring seven goals to help Brazil win the South American U-15 Championship. He was named the player of the tournament and two years later he reached an even higher level of fame when he played a big part in Flamengo winning the Sao Paulo Youth Cup, which is the youngest U-20 football tournament in Brazil.

His performances led to him joining Flamengo on a three-year professional deal when he turned 16 years old.  He made his debut with Flamengo in May 2017 when he came in for the last 10 minutes in a 1-1 draw against Atlético Mineiro. Just two days later he signed a contract extension until 2022 and received an offer from Real Madrid.

He was also spectacular in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He was named the best player of the tournament and was the top scorer with seven goals.

Mindset

Vinicius Junior’s main position is left-winger but he has so much versatility that he can also play on the right or as a striker. His main attributes are quickness, solid on-ball skills, agility and ability to get past opponents in an instant. The 19-year-old has an explosive pace that can cause endless nightmares for defenders.

He also has tricky feet and great balance. His burst of pace can leave defenders wondering what just happened and he is also extremely dangerous in the penalty box due to his ability to create opportunities for himself and for his teammates. Vinicius Junior is a very good passer, he has great vision.

Defending him one-on-one is almost impossible because he is able to use his body and physique exceptionally to get past players with ease. Also, since he is used to playing as a defender, he is diligent when he has to help on defense. He very eager to press opponents when they have the ball on their side of the field and to go back and help teammates when they are under pressure.

Future improvement

El Mundo described Vinicius Junior like this: “A player who is forever tormented, teetering on the edge, on that invisible line between genius and ridicule. Judgment always hangs over him, a winger unable to make his legs and feet move in unison, but he never gives up and that is a great quality.”

Real Madrid fans love when a player never gives up, especially if they eventually find success. That’s the best way to describe Vinicius Junior. He has all the talent in the world, he just has to continue to develop the mindset required to finish his opportunities to score.

Potential move?

Arsenal was linked with a move for Vinicius Junior last summer. The Gunners reportedly contacted Real Madrid with regards to a potential move for the Brazilian winger and they were said to be keen on reigniting their interest down the road. Real Madrid would likely ask a large fee, considering what they spent to sign him in 2018.

Conclusion

Vinicius Junior is undoubtedly a sublime talent. As mentioned above, Real Madrid have to be patient with him, he is only 19 years old but he has everything to become a star player and help them win often. It can be a tough ask for Real Madrid because this is a team that demands victory after victory all the time and there’s always pressure to deliver. If Vinicius Junior finds a way to focus on his goals and getting better while ignoring all the noise outside then he can find more success.