Have Real Madrid found the new Neymar in Vinicius?

For years now, Real Madrid‘s signing policy has centred on looking for the emerging stars of world football and bringing them to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu to grow and flourish. Vinicius Junior‘s performances this season are starting to vindicate that strategy and mark him out as a potential new king of football, calling to mind comparisons with his compatriot Neymar.

Still only 21 years old, Vini Jr arrived at Real Madrid over three years ago and it has taken him a while to adapt and settle, causing the more impatient to question his signing and the club’s approach to transfers. After an explosive start to 2021/22, however, scoring five in five, the young Brazilian is the man of the moment and Real Madrid are rubbing their hands with glee as they watch a new superstar emerge.

Comparisons with Neymar are inevitable given their nationality and the fact both moved to LaLiga Santander at a young age, but it must be remembered that Neymar arrived at Barcelona at 21 years old and was very much already an internationally renowned star. To some it may seem like Vinicius has taken a long time to get going, but his story is just getting started.

Last season the youngster showed glimpses of what was to come as Zinedine Zidane gave him more opportunities and he responded with displays such the one against Liverpool when his brace helped Los Blancos reach the Champions League semi-finals. By the end of the campaign, the CIES Football Observatory had him rated as the most valuable player in Real Madrid‘s squad.

Vinicius as one of LaLiga’s stars

As LaLiga no longer has either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, it’s not just Real Madrid who yearn for new stars. LaLiga president Javier Tebas himself has suggested that Vinicius and Ansu Fati could be the heirs to those thrones, the new faces of a league now positioning itself as the place to watch the rising stars of the future rather than the established top players in the world.

Vinicius is gaining recognition not only from Carlo Ancelotti and the crowd at the Bernabeu, but in off-field endeavours, too, with Nike now viewing him as one of their top figures. Young fans are particularly interested in younger players and Vinicius‘ increased profile could benefit Real Madrid in the South American market.

The winger has yet to really explode for the Brazilian national team, but Tite keeps involving him for Brazil and his moment will surely come. Vinicius is happy and enjoying his football under Ancelotti, who seems to have helped him find another level, and no doubt he will continue to improve.


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