There is nothing more appreciated in world football than a youngster’s breakout year. Football fans are always on a united front when a youngster has a great season.
Fans back them and hope they succeed and call them the next this and next that.
Vinicius Junior’s case was no different.
The then 18-year-old made his debut in a stalemate in the Madrid Derby but his first start came in the Copa Del Rey where and he was unplayable.
Against Melila, he put on a man of the match display with two assists and things just continued to get better and better for the young winger.
He became a key player in the Madrid team at such a young age and was one of the few positives that they could take from that season.
His season came to a halt when he sustained an injury in the Champions League that ruled him out for basically the rest of the season and cost him his place at the Copa America.
Fast forward to season two and the 19-year-old is ready to take on the world again but for one small problem. Real Madrid signed Eden Hazard.
Hazard, 28, is a major signing for Madrid. After last season it was clear that they needed a leader, another Galactico to lead the team in the post-Ronaldo era.
The Belgian’s arrival means that Vinicius will most probably have limited playing time since they play the same position.
So far, Hazard has not played a single game for the club due to the injury he sustained during pre-season.
Opportunity knocked for the Brazilian teenager to at least give Zidane a selection headache. It was an opportunity he didn’t take.
He played 69 disappointing minutes against Celta Vigo and had a measly 6.37 rating.
He touched the ball 25 times and played 18 passes with an accuracy of 66%. This performance meant he would be dropped for the next two games as a consequence.
Overall this season he has played 118 minutes in total and has impacted in none of those games.
No shots, no assists, one key pass and not even a single cross attempt.
It is unfortunate but the has not given Zidane anything to think about as regards his place in the squad when Hazard comes.
What does the youngster do? Does he demand more playing? Will he hand in a transfer request? Can Real Madrid afford to let such a talented young player go?
The answer to that last question is yes, they can. At the end of the day, Vinicius might end up being one of those young players that seem to have potential but actually don’t. Hazard, on the other hand, is a world-class player who is proven.
Vinicius at 19 already shows great maturity and an attitude that can see him improve and have a bigger role in the team.
Speaking to AS, he said, “The right-footed players like to play on the left, like [Eden] Hazard,” Vinicius said. “I am adapting to my new position but on the right I have a lot more difficulties.
“I am training hard and asking the coach that he puts me on the pitch. To have the possibilities to play on both flanks helps me both in Madrid and for Brazil.”
At 19, he is still a raw talent and can be moulded into his manager’s image and the means there may still be hope for him yet.
Gareth Bale, who plays predominantly on the right side of the attack is injury prone and currently suspended for one match which means Vinicius might get another chance to redeem himself after his poor start on the opposite flank.
Who knows, he may see himself gain a starting berth on the right with Hazard on the left if he continues to work hard.