Expectations can be tough to live up to, especially for footballers of a young age. In today’s world, hype can make a player seem larger than life early on, and how an individual manages these projections can be difficult. With that thought in mind, Vinícius Júnior has a unique path in front of him as he joins Real Madrid this summer.
The 18-year-old was originally signed last year from Brazilian side Flamengo, a transfer that has now been made official. With a fee reported at €46 million, Los Blancos certainly recognise the potential of the young forward. The club have stated that they do not plan to send him out on-loan (as they did for fellow prodigy Martin Ødegaard last term), and fans should expect to see him battle for first-team minutes.
A product of Flamengo’s academy system and futsal training in his home country of Brazil, Vinícius represents a new age for both Madrid and his national side. He has been a part of the Seleção at the youth level already, and it is only a matter of time before he earns his first cap with the senior side. Able to play out wide or as a striker, he will offer tremendous flexibility in the line-up for Real manager Julen Lopetegui.
Cristiano Ronaldo has left for Juventus, and his departure is the end of an era in many ways for Los Merengues. He spent nine extremely productive years in the Spanish capital, and helped return them to their current place at the top of Europe.
He is a player that is almost impossible to replace, and club president Florentino Pérez understands this fact. Instead of looking for an immediate fix, he knows that the best plan is to start a new era yet again. That new era begins with Vinícius.
The football world’s next star
Seeing Vinícius arrive amidst a big transfer fee and with the media buzzing, one could definitely expect a cautious approach from Madrid in terms of his development. All eyes will be on him at the Santiago Bernabéu, but he will not shy away from a challenge.
The club know what he can bring. A dynamic presence on the ball anywhere on the pitch, Lopetegui will want him to be a creative spark in the team’s attack. When it comes to age, there are truly no restrictions when comparing him to Kylian Mpabbé. The 19-year-old has captured a World Cup with France and helped Paris Saint-Germain to a Ligue 1 title in 2017-18, so there is really no limit on what might be asked of Vinícius.
It will take time, as the Brazilian grows with both his team-mates and his new surroundings. The jump to Europe is not always easy, but he will be with a club that have made their name in making the best reach their ultimate goals.
Real Madrid will certainly not look the same as they have in recent years, with Cristiano Ronaldo now playing in Italy. However, they will be looking to open a new chapter, and that chapter will focus on the immense talent of Vinícius Júnior beginning very soon.