The first impression that caused Vinicius Junior in the technical staff of Julen Lopetegui when they saw him train in Valdebebas for the first time, On July 16, it was a stupor. Subjected to the frantic pace that exercises usually impose on top-level European teams, where physical exhaustion reaches its maximum level in tasks in which decisions are required with little time and space to react, the boy was wrong in almost everything. "It is a physical marvel but tactically it is greener than broom," judged a witness of those sessions.
He had just turned 18 and his transfer, including all expenses, was between 40 and 60 million euros, according to various sources. In July there was nothing to suggest that under that pressure an immature football player recently arrived in a strange universe it would end up assuming the responsibility that Vinicius has acquired in Madrid. In contrast to the lassitude of a template dominated by the decline of the soul, the Brazilian lavishes optimism. Considering the four games played after the Mundialito, the statistics indicate it as the most decisive of Madrid in 2019. The difficult visit to Benito Villamarín concluded with a random victory (1-2), the attacker adds a goal (same as Benzema, Ramos, Lucas, Modric, Varane and Ceballos), one assist (like Kroos, Lucas and Odriozola), 13 shots (ahead of Benzema, who has 12), and 13 good dribbles (far from Carvajal, who follows him with six).
Lopetegui treated him with the utmost distrust. Perhaps he overlooked that under the mantle of distracted ingenuity the player hid a desperate character. They say in the club that nobody was tormented more than Vinicius after his first contact with his new teammates. Every time he returned home he repeated the same thing. "I have to improve!" He said. "I have to improve!".
He confessed to his friends that he came to suspect that he was not ready to play at Madrid. Because what I had done until then had nothing to do with it. Brazil's top scorer, U-15 and U-17 in South American countries, had caused a sensation in the twisted of Maracanã exercising as a dovecote in Flamengo. In Neymar's impersonal imitation, his absolute reference, he threw himself to the side, expected the ball to arrive and took off with all his repertoire of snatches, braking, changes of direction, lambrettas and eplastic I just wanted to reach the goal by the quickest route and – if possible – colorful.
Sergio Reguilón. 22 years. Five matches in Primera (four as a starter), all with Real Madrid
Fede Valverde. 20 years. The most experienced, with 1,385 minutes in Primera distributed in 29 games: 24 with Deportivo (12 starts), and five with Madrid (1).
Brahim Díaz 19 years. 57 minutes in the first in six games with City and Madrid
Vinicius 18 years. 241 minutes in eight Primera matches, two as a starter.
Christ. years, a single match in Primera, 44 minutes.
In Madrid the demands were doubled. Starting with a law I had never contemplated: judging when to risk and when not. What struck him most in his first practice was that his colleagues never lost simple balls. Against its impulse -to accelerate and finish maneuvers worthy of highlight of television news-, observed that here one could not compete without first choosing well when and how to take decisive action. The essential thing was not to unbalance but to give continuity to the plays. So he began to associate, to look for the pass, and, by extension, to offer himself continually so that they would give him the ball at the foot or in space. An oxygen pump for a Madrid suffocated.
They call him 'Pele'
Ironically baptized Pele by some veteran who sees him as the outpost of the president's regeneration project, Florentino Pérez, the young attacker enjoys the backing of the coach, Santiago Solari, in the same way that Isco has remained on the side of the shadow of the strategic plans. Solari is limited to executing guidelines. This is what Emilio Butragueño hinted at, so cold in the defense of Isco as eloquent in the exaltation of the most illustrious representative of the new presidential bet.
"Vinicius," the spokesman told Movistar + in Benito Villamarín's box, "almost always improves the play when he receives the ball. For example, the pass that Valverde has given in the first half, in a counterattack that could end in goal. We [los dirigentes] from the box, before Vinicius started the race we were saying: 'Valverde! And he had already seen it. Only that detail gives an idea of the player's category. "
Born in Sao Gonçalo, on the less fortunate shore of the Guanabara Bay, the first thing that his interlocutors emphasize is his clear look and his smiling disposition. He keeps making mistakes for lack of criteria but compensates with feverish enthusiasm. Now he says he is convinced that he has a place in the starting team, and warns that when Bale and Asensio recover from their injuries they will put their new position to the test. To defend it, it strives to leave a mark at full speed. Although for that he has to play without having recovered completely from a flu, as he did in Seville.
Until a year and a half ago, Madrid's lead was divided into two lines: the starters, Bale, Benzema and Cristiano, and the substitutes, Morata, James, Isco and Asensio. On Sunday, the Whites ended their game against Betis with Brahim, Cristo and Vinicius on the edge. Benzema's injury, which fractured the little finger of his right hand in the first half, sharpened the cash crisis. The French striker will miss tomorrow's round of the Cup eighth against Leganés but could reach the weekend clash against Sevilla, next Saturday, playing with a splint that protects the damaged finger.
While looking for medical solutions to minimize Benzema's decline, the club examines the market's possibilities to revitalize the weak goalscoring figures (28 goals in favor in 19 league games). On the list of possible reinforcements stand out the names of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, retired half in the Galaxy, Timo Werner, tip of Leipzig, and Krzysztof Piatek. The 23-year-old Genoa striker from Genoa is one of the sensations of the Serie A, with 13 goals in 19 matches, just one less than Cristiano Ronaldo, to which he adds another six goals scored in the Italian Cup (total , one every 93 minutes). It has a contract until 2022 and, according to the Transfermarkt portal, a market value of 20 million euros.
Meanwhile, in training yesterday, the central Jesus Vallejo suffered his fourth muscle injury so far in a disastrous season in which he has only been able to play two games: the return of Copa against Melilla and the Champions League match against CSKA at the Bernabéu.