Vinicius Junior has given Real Madrid fans reasons to smile about when things weren’t right. The former Flamengo man has lit things up with his flair and grace when the club was not at its best last season.
The youngster presents the generational change that Real have to undergo, with the previous era now slowly petering out. Vinicius was a signing that was made to address this transition.
The sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, the fall from grace of Luka Modric, the tantrums around Gareth Bale and the situation of James Rodriguez means that Vinicius is the man for Los Blancos.
The recent reports linking Arsenal with a move for the youngster shouldn’t discourage Real though. Calciomercato claim that Arsenal are reigniting their interest in Vinicius. In the summer, Brazilian outlet UOL did claim that the Gunners did push to sign the youngster in the transfer window but nothing came of it.
Arsenal’s sporting director Edu has a big influence in Brazil. And that could help him come closer to the former Flamengo man. But the Los Blancos should not be happy about the interest. They should have no doubt that the player’s future lies at the Santiago Bernabeu itself.
So far this season, the 19-year-old has found the back of the net once and has one assist to his name. He has played eight times, out of which four have been starts.
His last start for the club came in their 1-0 loss to Mallorca. He has made three appearances from the bench in all competitions since then. Last season, he made 36 appearances in all competitions and had an involvement in 20 goals. That’s an impressive number for a player who was 18 last season.
Eden Hazard’s arrival from Chelsea though, is set to reduce his time and influence. Last season, Vinicius was a regular on the left-wing. This season, he has often been playing on the right too. But his main position on the left is being occupied by Hazard a majority of times.
Zidane recently did say that it is time for patience, when it comes to Vinicius. He told reporters:
“Isn’t he the same player? Why wouldn’t I trust him? He’s got the coach’s full support but I have 23 players and I need to use all of them. Vinicius is 18 years old and is the future of Real Madrid, I’m sure. But everything comes in its own time. He’s in the process of doing things the right way but I am counting on him. Sometimes he won’t play because another person does. I completely back Vinicius. Stop saying anything to the contrary. He’s a good player.”
While that isn’t good for Vinicius’ development, it was bound to happen. Real have the thirst for success in Europe and that can be achieved through big-name signings. They need world-class players for that. While that is going to hinder Vinicius’ development, it doesn’t mean he should be let go permanently.
He has been completing 1.6 dribbles per game this season- the second-highest at the club behind Hazard. It shows that he is in the mould of the player who can play on side in the long-term. Last season’s numbers show that, even though he does lack a decisive ball.
He isn’t a complete product by any means. And the situation at Real shows that he might not become one too quickly if he stays there. It isn’t his fault that Real signed a left-winger either.
Instead of letting him go permanently, Real should consider loaning him out in the winter window. It will do both parties a lot of good. Vinicius can develop and Real won’t have the burden of developing him when they have better players. But a lot of it depends on Gareth Bale’s situation too.
If the Welshman leaves in January, Real will need depth on the wings. Rodrygo Goes is breaking in while James has to be used centrally. Lucas Vazquez is expected to be out for a while and Vinicius might just have a shout.
But at 19, there is no room for ‘might’ and ‘maybe’. He needs first-team football. Real have to loan him out and not strangle the development of a quality player. The fact that Vinicius isn’t part of the Real side for the Paris Saint-Germain shows that his temporary future might lie elsewhere.