'I think Real Madrid still miss Cristiano but asking Vinicius Jr to carry team is unfair', says former Barcelona star
What's the story?
Former Barcelona and Manchester United star Jordi Cruyff has spoken about the impact that Cristiano Ronaldo's exit has left on Real Madrid and how it is not fair to pressurize young Vinicius Jr to fill the Portuguese's big boots and carry the team.
In case you didn't know...
Ronaldo left the European champions to join Italian giants Juventus for a €114 million transfer last summer. Since then, Los Blancos have been left with a massive void and have failed to find a worthy replacement for the Portuguese.
After having suffered in the initial stages of their campaign (including Julen Lopetegui's sacking as manager), the club appears to have improved under Santiago Solari.
Real Madrid are now just six points behind arch rivals Barcelona in LaLiga and have also made it to the round-of-16 stage of the Champions League.
The heart of the matter
Cruyff, who is currently managing Chinese side Chongqing Dangdai Lifan, believes that while Real Madrid still miss Ronaldo, the club should not expect teenager Vinicius Junior to carry the team.
Speaking to Goal, the former Barca man said:
"In the end, they are players who have ability above the others, appear at important moments, guarantee you a number of goals. When you are on the field, you always trust your options because you have that special player. Now Real Madrid rely more on being a team. And I think they still miss Cristiano. If the match goes 0-0, that marquee player is the one who unbalances."
Vinicius has shown promising qualities in the first team, having netted three goals and registered eleven assists for the club so far. But Cruyff still believes that the Brazilian needs time to establish himself as a leader in the team. He added:
"He (Vinicius) is young, he's very talented, that's why they paid what was paid for him. But of course, asking him to carry the team is unfair. It is unfair to ask for it and also to wait for it. He is young and needs the time to learn and adapt that his age requires. He will have ups and downs, which is normal."
"His talent is obvious, but often it is better not to talk much about him so that he can be calm and without so much pressure on his back."
Real Madrid are currently preparing to face Ajax in the Champions League last 16 stage later tonight.