When widespread criticism of Vinicius Junior they were at their most wrong, most impatient, the main narrative revolved around their decision making. As it turns out, these shortsighted opinions weren’t just completely wrong about what this smart and explosive Brazilian was capable of doing on the pitch. They were also completely unaware of the fantastic decision he made, when he was just 16 years old, choosing to sign for Real Madrid and reject Barcelona.
What a brutal decision for a young man from Rio de Janeiro: to try to emulate Ronaldinho and Neymar, or Roberto Charlie and Casemiro? Go play with Lionel messi Or sign for a club in the process of raising the hat-trick in the Champions League?
My point is that Vinicius was the player that everyone wanted. The two biggest clubs in Spain fought tooth and nail to earn their loyalty. However, his decision was the correct one: at the time, Vini gave evidence that, regardless of how poorly polished his conditions might be, regardless of how much the impressions that most had of him were affected by the way he sounds or his aspect (not exactly the most cosmopolitan or youthful), he had enough guts to go with his genius in the game. We’ll get back to that in a second or two.
Right now, Vinicius is the most precious object of affection in the White House. It continues to produce goals and assists figures comparable, or even surpassing, those of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo when they were the same age. He is propelling his team, serving as a motor in the LaLiga and Champions campaigns. Furthermore, he is about to renew his contract with better conditions, a more substantial salary and an untouchable termination clause.
Vinicius has not only had a powerful start to the season, led by moments of absolute greatness against Shakhtar Donetsk in Kiev, Barcelona in the Clásico played at the Camp Nou and two sublime goals in his visit to Elche. Vini scores and plays with more authority and consistency than at any other time in his senior soccer career. It has occupied 12 of the last 24 front pages of the Marca and AS newspapers, which together have reached tens of millions of readers during that 12-day period. That is Messi’s territory and Christian.
The theme that I want to capture, not to extend myself, is Vinicius’s remarkable ability to make decisions in moments of maximum pressure. And two of his last three games have been brilliant demonstrations of that.
During Madrid’s trip to the Elche field last weekend, Vini not only scored two divine goals, but also deserving of a more zealous examination.
For the first goal, Vinicius defined thanks to a beautiful assist from Mariano. However, the Brazilian is on the left side of the opposite area and if he finishes first, instead of cutting to his right, he would be forced to define with his left-handed, less favored and powerful. Your decision making, in fractions of a second, is good. He calculates that Mariano’s play has been so unexpected that the goalkeeper Kiko Casilla he will be forced to work to get into the correct position, and if he shoots down and diagonally, the ball is likely to cross the goalkeeper’s position too soon to neutralize it. Bingo with both decisions. A first-class definition.
The second goal shows us something of his genius, although it is also a waste of his innate conditions. The definition is athletic, inventive and requires talent, at such speed and close proximity to a goalkeeper in action. A definition owned by very few. However, Vinicius’ decision is worthy of applause when the ball is at the feet of Toni Kroos.
The Germany midfielder saw a volley pass 25 meters away, which passed through a group of players until it reached Luka modric, free within a space on the outskirts of the Elche area. Vinicius stands out from the far left; however, it manages to anticipate. While the ball (first touched by Kroos) is 10 meters from reaching Modric, Madrid’s new superstar is already on the move. He starts sprinting and his timing is perfect. When the Croatian international, winner of the Ballon d’Or 2018, turns around, he has a perfect vision of Vinicius enabled, who bursts into the area and (presto!) The pass and the definition are, literally, glorious.
All of the above is part of a more important decision made by the gunner many, many months ago. Vinicius saw, and was encouraged to understand, that if he gave up possession of the ball to some of the world-class players around him (particularly Karim Benzema, Modric, Casemiro and Kroos) instead of following their natural instinct to go toe-to-toe with their direct opponent all the time; he would receive the ball again, with interest, on most occasions.
Madrid’s triumph in the Classic was another example of this.
For the first meringue, when David praise He sent the ball to Vinicius, and the volatilely talented Madrid winger did his “here you see the ball, not now” trick against Oscar Mingueza, it’s easy to imagine the blast of adrenaline and endorphins coursing through his body and mind. That is the reason to live for many extremes. The perfect street soccer moment in which you play it all, face a direct rival and leave him breathless and without a sense of understanding.
There was a time when that explosion of energy sometimes exceeded Vinicius’s sense of judgment, and he felt that his feet had wings. This time, Vinicus took a second to think, immediately. Rather than launch himself to the left, he switched with a lovely center to Rodrygo. And he did it for a reason. Like the dominoes that fall when the first in line is pushed, the Barcelona players went to the right hand of Madrid, opening a huge space in front of Alaba in mid-flight towards the left wing and … goal.
However, now let’s go back to Vinicius’ decision-making off the pitch, when he was just a youth footballer who had the jewels of the whole world thrown at him.
During the 21st minute of the El Clásico, did you realize what happened when Vinicius challenged Mingueza to mark him, and that he was shortly after conceding a penalty? Angry at what he considered to be a great pool, Jordi Alba collided noses and, later, foreheads with Vinicius. The situation was not far from deserving a red card, which would have happened if either of them had leaned their forehead forward or raised their hands to turn the other’s head away. However, it was not a Real Madrid player who tried to convince Vinicius that not being provoked was something really important. It was Gerard Piqué, Alba’s partner in the Catalan team.
Piqué loves to win and doesn’t mind provoking a rival from time to time. So seeing him try to keep the Madrid figure on the pitch could be a very strange event. In any case, Barcelona’s ‘3’ feels great affection for Vinicius, and has testified to how close the Brazilian came to wearing the Blaugrana shirt, instead of the white one.
Shortly before the El Clásico, Piqué revealed to his friend, the internet influencer Ibai Llanos: “Vinicius has great talent. Did you know that he was about to come to Barça? No, [llegó el Madrid y] Vinicius was offered double. I spoke personally before going to Madrid and on the call the uncle recognized me that it was made by Barça. It was done. I don’t remember how it was. It was to receive him in the locker room. It was done. Madrid arrived at the last second and offered him everything. “
André Cury, a Brazilian scout who worked with Barça, echoes the version of events told by Piqué (he would say it, right?), Stating that he and the Catalan club felt betrayed, and that the only thing that made the White House win the Battle for Vinicius was throwing the checkbook in a shocking way. But the player himself, and this is the version that catches my attention, has always explained things in a very different way.
In this same column last year, I reported that Vinicius made it very clear that his main priorities had been the “project” and his “development” as a player, once balanced with the economic benefits of both offers. In fact, Vinicius continues to claim that Madrid eventually earned his signing despite offering less financial incentives than Barcelona.
“When making decisions, I have always tried to think about the best for my training. This seemed to be a very good project, they promised me that they would give me the opportunity to learn and train.”
“All of this helped me choose Madrid over Barcelona. Barcelona wanted to pay us more, but I spoke with Marcelo and Casemiro, and that made it clear to me that it was not about making more money, but about choosing well.”
And here it is. Surprisingly, Vinicius is still trying to convince Tite, the Brazil coach, who apparently knows his players better than the rest or is a fool. But think of the somersaults of happiness that Carlo Ancelotti and Florentino Pérez had to do when they saw the summons of the Amarelo team and found out that Vini would have the opportunity to stay in the Spanish capital and rest for the strong wave of matches to be played from here to Christmas.
Vinicius made the right decision five years ago, when it would have been easy to accept the best financial offer and believe that playing alongside Messi was too attractive a proposal to reject. Rather, he focused on Florentino’s imposed policy of finding and signing the best young talent, believing that the Santiago Bernabéu was fertile ground for his budding anarchic genius.
Looking at the two current situations of both clubs, weighing the progress shown in Vinicius’s game, and appreciating the football quality of which we are witnesses, we have to say with all sincerity: “Good decision, son.”
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Vinicius is showing that he did the right thing in rejecting Barcelona