The amount of young footballers who dream of playing in top-flight football for prestigious clubs is uncanny.
Some sleep wishing to appear in the Premier League or Ligue 1, some the Bundesliga or Serie A and others dream of LaLiga.
However, the budding teenagers who manage to become a part of these gigantic clubs are put under a lot of pressure to prove themselves as elite-talent.
Looking in Spain, Real Madrid are a club who recently signed a player who carries the pressure to live up to their speculated talent: Vinicius Junior.
Since moving from Flamengo back in July 2018, the Brazilian left-winger was believed to be a huge star. The teenager has taken the time to prove himself as he has yet to crack under the pressure.
When club President Florentino Perez made the decision to sign the 18-year-old attacker, it was one of the initial steps in Real Madrid’s new trading agenda. No more Galacticos.
Ever since the signing of James Rodriguez in 2014, buying superstar players is no longer a priority for the club. Instead, the integration of young players such as Alvaro Odriozola, Dani Ceballos, Brahim Diaz and Vinicius himself was to prepare a young squad that would develop over time.
Specifically, the addition of Vinicius was supposed to add more depth to the team. Most thought that he would be either a part of the Castilla team or a substitute on the bench, only playing a few minutes in the first team, and under the management of former head coach Julen Lopetegui, both these instances occurred.
Vinicius played five games for Castilla scoring five goals and bagged one assist and also occasionally sat on the bench for the first team. Now under the rule of Santiago Solari, the teenager has shown he can accept the challenge of being labelled as a young phenomenon.
When he was first introduced to the club, Vinicius explained to the press that handling pressure at his new home is not unexpected, but something he can accept with open arms.
”I come from Flamengo, which is a club with a lot of pressure,” explained the Brazilian back in July 2018.
“Everyone gives me the greatest possible support so that I only have to worry about playing. I never think about failing, only about winning. Winning everything in the Real Madrid jersey.”
With the change in management, the No. 28 has appeared for the first team 24 times and sometimes even took over Gareth Bale’s place on the wings. He has assisted 12 goals and scored three of his own while rising to the challenge of proving himself as a great young talent on almost every occasion with his waves of drive and determination on the pitch.
Of course, these numbers alone are fairly good for a young developing talent like Vinicius but when you also take into consideration Real Madrid’s recent calendar, the performances hold more importance.
It is widely known that the Spanish team had an unfamiliar start to the season, dropping points against Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Alaves, Levante, Barcelona and more. After only 10 matches, they were sitting in ninth place.
Eventually, they managed to gain some ground and climb their way back into the top four of the table but any slip-up in their recent schedule could have made the situation even worse.
Since January 19, 2019, the club found themselves in a crucial part of the season. League games against Sevilla, Atletico and Barcelona were mixed in with both the quarter and semi-final legs of the Copa del Rey against Girona and again, Barcelona plus the Round of 16 match against Ajax.
In the span of six weeks, everything was at stake for the club’s season.
Thankfully, with a bit of luck and an injury boost, Solari’s men were able to make the most of their tough fixtures and Vinicius Junior had an impact on the results.
During the league games against Sevilla and Atletico, the teenager was a standout player. Against Pablo Machin’s men, he had five shots, two of which were on target and had 2 key passes. Then at the Wanda Metropolitano, he made a mockery of the Atleti backline and drew a penalty which Ramos easily converted.
In the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals against Girona, he set up an assist for Karima Benzema, had six key passes and won another penalty. Days later in the return leg, he set up yet another assist for his French teammate.
Then against Barcelona and Ajax, the Brazilian once again had an impact on the final score as he provided an assist in the Champions League and was part of the build-up for the goal in the Copa del Rey.
As per these performances, Solari was very happy with the youngster’s ability to step up and perform on the pitch when the team needed it most despite his young age.
”He’s a very young lad, with a really bright future ahead of him,” said Solari in a press conference.
“We’re all really happy for him and with him. All of his teammates help him and both he and the rest of his teammates deserve real praise for the way in which they support him and enhance his game”.
Fellow frontman Benzema also took the opportunity to explain how he enjoys being on the pitch with Vinicius despite being 13 years older.
“I like playing with Vinicius, he is a player who listens, takes in advice, and works very hard,” Benzema said after the win over Ajax.
So after everything, we have a player who at the age of 18, is proving to any doubters that he belongs exactly where he is.
He managed to start his European football career at one of the biggest clubs in the world, let alone Spain, push his way into the starting XI, provide assists, score goals and receive praise from his fellow teammates.
The signing of Vinicius Junior could have oh so easily gone the other way.
He could have been a player who would only be given a few opportunities with the first team and then shipped out on loan to another club in LaLiga.
But this player, specifically this teenager, managed to win the pressure battle against all odds and has already established himself as a superstar talent.
Now, of course, there are a lot of things the young Brazilian has to work on but like any other footballer, skills develop over time.
In the end, there should not be any more speculation about this young superstar’s abilities and everything to come should excite the football world.