Scout Report – Vinicius Junior
Over the years, when a Brazilian player emerged on the scenes, his talent was compared with the benchmark set by arguably two of the greatest players to have played the game; Pele and Ronaldo. In recent times, however, the parameter of comparison has moved on from the legends to the newest superstar from the land of Samba, Neymar.
So, when a player bursts onto the scenes and is suddenly hailed as the ‘next Neymar’, almost the entire footballing community takes notice. And this exactly has been the case for young Vinicius Junior who is taking the Brazilian football by storm at a tender age of 17.
The 17-year-old Flamengo wonder kid has been making great waves in his homeland, attracting major interest from a number of European heavyweights. Vinicius Jr. had already attracted scouts from all around the world with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all monitoring the latest football sensation from Brazil. However, he ended up signing for Real Madrid in a whopping £38 million deal earlier this summer. That fee, is a humongous one, considering that he only broke into the senior team for Flamengo this year.
Now set to participate in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 in India, we take a close look at who Vinicius Junior is and why he is heralded as the next best thing in Brazil;
Born in Sao Goncalo, Brazil, on July 12, 2000, Vinicius Jr. joined the Escolinha Fla Sao Goncalo, the Flamengo-affiliated school as a five-year old boy. Vinicius displayed great attitude even at such a young age. Having starred in several regional tournaments, the wonder kid moved to the Flamengo academy, where he again managed to catch the eyes of several coaches with his technique and ability on the ball and a keen eye for a goal standing out.
Vinicius led the charge for Flamengo’s junior team to triumph in Copa Votorantim in 2015, before continuing his excellent form in the Campeonato Carioca where he became the creative hub of the team, scoring and creating at free will.
However, it was the Copa Sao Paulo, Brazil’s much-decorated youth tournament, earlier this year, where he really emerged into the limelight. He dominated the competition, where players three years older to him were also playing.
Then, at the 2017 South American Under-17 Championship in Chile he, just like Neymar, was the stand-out player, attracting scouts from across Europe. With 7 goals in the competition, Vinicius steered Brazil to victory in the tournament. Till date, Junior has netted 19 goals in 22 appearances for Brazil’s Under-17 side.
Vinicius Jr., made his senior debut for Flamengo only in May earlier this year, in a 1-1 draw against Atletico Mineiro. He had just made two substitute appearances (17 minutes), when Real Madrid signed him up, for a mammoth fee, but due to FIFA rules for international transfers of players under the age of 18, he was allowed to continue his development with Flamengo. The youngster has managed 3 goals and a sole assist in 20 games for the Brazilian side.
His performances have been so catchy that there have been comparisons drawn with the likes of Neymar, Rivaldo and so on.
Style of Play
Much like the current Paris Saint-Germain star, Vinicius plays as a left-winger but is at home on the opposite flank, as well as playing through the middle, and leading the attack.
Vinicius’ biggest asset is his ability to run at blistering pace with the ball at his feet. His speed allows him to drive his side up the field in a matter of seconds and can act as an effective outlet, especially on the counter. Able to hug the touchlines like an old-fashioned winger, the 17-year old can also be equally devastating when he cuts in from the flanks.
His ability to beat his man is absolutely brilliant as he can leave a defender standing in his tracks with his pace and dribbling abilities, which has resulted in him being on the end of some crunching tackles in the past. He also possesses impressive shooting skills, and he can unleash some powerful strikes with great accuracy. He has great temperament and skills in one-on-one situations.
He is quite accomplished for his age too. Vinicius has shown great confidence in his abilities and has proven to be a tricky customer to deal with due to his incredible pace and acceleration, along with the unpredictability that he brings.
What Does the Future Hold?
The exciting youngster has continued to make huge strides on the field, after having finally broken into the Flamengo senior team this year. His goal-return may not have been the best, but there are no questions over the fact that he is a special talent.
We may have to wait for another year for him to be able to shine on the European stages, but for now, he will be representing the Brazil U-17s in the FIFA World Cup and is expected to light up the stages in India.