A quick look at the La Liga table would suggest that Real Madrid are in good shape, with Zinedine Zidane’s side two points clear at the top after eight games so far. However, Los Blancos have still faced a considerable amount of criticism for some of their performances and have struggled in the Champions League, losing to Paris Saint-Germain and drawing with Club Brugge despite boasting high profile names headlined by Eden Hazard.
One player who hasn’t been at his best in the early stages of the season is Vinicius Junior, with the winger having scored only one goal in seven appearances, while he was left out of Madrid’s squad entirely for the victory against Granada last weekend.
In total, since linking up with Madrid in the summer of 2018, Vinicius has mustered just two goals in La Liga (Transfermarkt).
It is important to remember that Vinicius is just 19 years old and Real still have an immense amount of faith in him, with his contract running until 2025 and Zidane, as reported by Marca, having recently referred to the prospect as ‘the future of Real Madrid’.
There is little doubt about Vinicius’ potential, and at his best he can be a nuisance for opposing defenders with his pace and flair.
Real Madrid can be accused, though, of expecting rather too much from him too soon, with an unhealthy amount of pressure having been placed on his shoulders.
In recent games Vinicius has been easier for defenders to deal with as his actions have been rather predictable. The £38.7m fee to bring Vinicius to Real will also have increased the expectation on him to perform and an injury suffered towards the end of last season didn’t help his progress.
At times the teenager has appeared overwhelmed by the pressure and it needs to be taken into consideration that he can’t be expected to perform miracles for Real when he is still adapting to La Liga.
The arrival of Eden Hazard, who is starting to find his feet at Real having scored against Granada, has pushed Vinicius further down the pecking order at The Bernabeu, but in some ways that could be a good thing.
Now the majority of the focus will be on Hazard, who is much better equipped to handle such demands given his age and experience.
That could enable Vinicius to be used, for the time being at least, as an impact player, where he can use his aforementioned qualities to excellent effect against tiring defences.
As a consequence, the starlet, who has already been capped by Brazil at senior level, would be able to build up his confidence and then be eased into the starting lineup once he is ready.
With Hazard surely set to make Real’s left-wing position his own, there have been suggestions that Vinicius will be more frequently deployed on the opposite flank.
That will represent another new experience for him, but if he is able to adapt then it could pave the way for Vinicius to eventually force his way back into the team.
Vinicius told Marca: ‘It’s always really difficult to begin with, but I’m adapting well in my new position.
‘I’m training and asking Zidane (about it), who is putting me there.
‘Left or right, having the chance to play on both wings helps me at Real Madrid and in the (Brazilian) national team.’
Gareth Bale has started the majority of Real’s league games this season on the right-wing, but the Welshman’s future at the club remains uncertain.
If Bale was to leave, either in January or next summer, Vinicius would be ready to step up.
The important thing to stress with Vinicius is that there shouldn’t be any rush for him to show his quality. If he is given sufficient time then he will surely be able to deliver.
At Real there is nowhere to hide, with each player’s performance in every game being scrutinised intently.
That has proven difficult for Vinicius to cope with, but if he is used in a more reduced capacity for the time being then it could be hugely beneficial for him.
The ultimate aim for Vinicius is to thrive at Real and be a key part of the Brazil side at the 2022 World Cup.
He has endured some difficulties of late, but if he applies himself correctly and is taken out of the limelight for a little bit, Vinicius is certainly capable of achieving both of those objectives.