Why Vinicius Jr Could Step Into Cristiano Ronaldo's Shoes at Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Juventus shocked Real Madrid fans around the world. It is clearly visible that Real Madrid cashed in on him before his decline, but is that a good idea in doing so, or will it haunt them in the coming days?
If it was Ronaldo's idea to leave Real in the quest for a new adventure, nobody could do anything but respect it, but once the club decided to sell him they needed to address it. Fortunately, they found a new raw talent who was considered to be one of the bright prospects of Brazilian football - 18-year-old Brazilian wonder kid Vinicius Junior.
He completed his move to Real Madrid from Flamengo worth £38.7 million, which is a world record move for a teenager only behind Kylian Mbappe (£166 million) and Anthony Martial (£58 million).
The agreement between Real Madrid and Flamengo actually took place last May, when he was only 16. Real offered him a contract and the move was not possible because of international transfer rules (a player needs to be 18 and above to be signed by a club outside the country). He was finally unveiled on 20 July 2018.
"I'm honoured to have reached the pinnacle in football, Real Madrid, at only 18 years of age." Vinicius said during his unveiling at Real Madrid.
Vinicius Jr.'s Achievements
In 2015, Vinicius helped Flamengo win the Copa Votorantim, which is one of the major U-15 tournaments in Brazil. He topped the goalscorers chart too, netting 6 goals in 9 games.
In 2016 he was part of the U-17 team for Flamengo, being the youngest in the team. He scored 10 goals and was on top of the assist charts for the league. Eventually, Flamengo clinched the U-17 Rio de Janeiro State League title.
In 2017 his reputation grew after he led Flamengo to win the Sao Paulo Youth Cup, the largest U-20 football competition in Brazil. The notable thing here is that he is three years younger than the maximum age.
Vinicius, at the age of 16, then officially began training with the Flamengo senior team. He played a key role in Flamengo's rise to the top of Brazil's Serie A, scoring six goals and grabbing three assists in their first 11 League and Copa Libertadores matches.
He was also voted the best player last year in the U-17 South American Championship as he led Brazil to victory.
A nimble and fast-footed, lively player who can play as a winger or second striker, with his pace and lightning turns in the opposition half, he will draw many fouls. He has some sublime skills to go past full-backs and deadly shooting accuracy as well.
He also has a knack for passing through defenders in the final third, which is why he can also be deployed as a second striker. He keeps the ball well and his work rate is amazing.
He is a dribbling demon who helps his defence and carries the ball forward, which is the most important aspect of the modern game.
He has a small weakness, though. He keeps the ball for too long trying to do difficult things where a small pass can suffice, but he can overcome that with experience.
“Vinicius is a player with a lot of quality and talent. He’s the biggest prospect for the future of Brazilian football." - Ronaldo Nazario
"The most impressive thing about him is that despite his move to Real Madrid, his behaviour is still excellent. He shows a lot of respect and obedience and is very receptive.
"He does not cause any problems, remains very humble and talkative with his team-mates. He is on a very good path." - Vinicius Jr.'s former manager, Reinaldo Rueda -
How good is Vinicius?
After earning his place in the senior team at Flamengo, Vinicius finally got a chance to play in a game that was waiting for the deadlock to be broken, he came in as a substitute and did all the tricks in his book, but his team failed to score and the match ended in a draw.
Fans had high expectations of him, but he disappointed them and they started mocking him after the match. Despite all that, he never felt dejected but continued to flourish, providing some helpful contributions to the team in the process, which is a crucial thing to develop as a player.
His best performances came eventually when he started his first four matches, where he scored two and assisted one that earned the team some crucial wins. He played his part when it mattered most.
In a derby game of Copa Sudamericana semi-final against Fluminense, his side was in need of two goals to qualify for the final, and the youngster was introduced with about half an hour's play remaining.
His introduction paid off immediately as he provided a delicious outside of the foot pass that was the catalyst for their equaliser. After 15 minutes Flamengo added another goal and qualified for the final.
In the next game, he was the spark that Flamengo needed, with his deadly dribbling he helped his team come from 1-0 down to win it 2-1 against Vitoria, and this win provided them with a place in group stages of Copa Libertadores.
For his amazing display in 2017, as he led Brazil to victory in the South American Championship, he was voted the best player in that competition and his performances drew comparisons with the likes of his fellow countryman Neymar.
To be able to succeed Ronaldo, he needs to do this on a regular basis and the margin for errors is very low at Real Madrid.
Can Vinicius replicate his form at Real Madrid?
Vinicius has all the attributes required to become a regular starter for Real Madrid. If new coach Julen Lopetegui and the management give him enough support, his confidence could only grow and possibly fill the shoes of Ronaldo in the near future.
Ronaldo had tons of talent and desire to become a top player when he first arrived at Manchester United but success did not arrive overnight. He matched his fame with performance after three seasons of hard work and from then he never looked back.
Vinicius is in a similar position to Ronaldo; he has the physical toughness and mental determination to succeed at an elite level.
Real Madrid's record says that they want quick replacements and history suggests they like to prefer readymade talent, which is the reason for their reported rumours linking the club with Eden Hazard, Neymar and even Kylian Mbappe.
With Vinicius' talent and skills, he could be a future bright prospect if he gets enough game time and confidence. It is up to Real to mould this young talent into a desired finished product.