Vinicius’ phenomenal form at Real Madrid proves his decision to dismiss Barcelona was the right one

When the general criticism of Vinicius Junior was the most out of place, the most impatient, the main theme was about his decision-making. Turns out, not only were these myopic opinions completely wrong about what this smart and explosive Brazilian was capable of on the pitch, but they completely ignored the fantastic decision he made, at just 16, when he was. chose to sign for Real Madrid. and reject Barcelona.

What brutal choice for a young man from Rio de Janeiro: to try to imitate Ronaldinho and Neymar, or Roberto Carlos and Casemiro? Go play with Lionel Messi or join a club in the middle of the Champions League treble?

What I mean is Vinicius was the player they all wanted. Spain’s two biggest clubs fought tooth and nail to win his loyalty. But he made his decision on the spot: he immediately proved that, crude as he could be, even though people’s first impressions of him were hampered by his sound or appearance (not exactly cosmopolitan and very young), he had the guts to go with his gaming genius. Let’s get back to that in a second or two.

At the moment, Vinicius is the darling of Los Blancos‘affection. He continues to produce goals and assists numbers that compare favorably or beat Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the same age. He propels his team forward in La Liga and Champions League and, moreover, he is in line for an improved contract, better wages and an untouchable buyout clause.

Vinicius didn’t just have a strong start to the season – capped off with spells of absolute magnificence against Shakhtar Donetsk in Kiev, Barcelona at Camp Nou Classic and then two sublime goals at Elche – he scores and plays with more authority and consistency than at any time in his senior career. He has occupied 12 of the last 24 covers of Diario Marca or Diario AS, which, combined, reach tens of millions of readers in that 12-day period. This is Messi and Ronaldo’s territory.

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My theme, to put it mildly, is Vinicius’ notable ability to make decisions under pressure. And two of the last three games have been brilliant showcases for it.

On the road to Elche this weekend, not only did he score two divine goals, but they deserve a closer look.

For the first, he was sent into the box by a nice assist from Mariano. But Vinicius is on the left side of the penalty area and if he shoots for the first time, rather than backing down to his right, he will end up finishing off his less favored and less powerful foot. His decision-making, in a fraction of a second, is good. He calculates that Mariano’s kick was so unexpected that goalkeeper Kiko Casilla will scramble to find the right position, and if he hits low and diagonally, the ball will likely cross the keeper’s position too early for him to be able to. deal. Bingo on both decisions. High end finish.

The second shows part of his genius, but the innate stuff. The finish is athletic, inventive and demands talent, at such speed and so close to a fiery goalkeeper, that very few possess. But where Vinicius ‘decision is to be applauded is when the ball is at Toni Kroos’ feet.

The German midfielder saw a 25-meter volley pass through a group of players towards Luka Modric, free in a pocket of space outside Elche’s penalty area. Vinicius is far to the left, but he anticipates. While the ball, first hit by Kroos, is still 10 meters from reaching Modric, the new Madrid superstar is already on the move. He’s looking into a sprint and it’s perfectly timed. When the Ballon d’Or-winning Croatian international takes and turns he has a perfect view of Vinicius, next door, bursting into the box and – hey, hop – the pass and finish are, literally, glorious.

It’s part of a larger decision the forward made many months ago. Vinicius saw, and was encouraged to understand, that if he ceded possession to some of the world-class players around him – particularly Karim Benzema, Modric, Casemiro and Kroos – rather than follow his natural instinct to go mano to mano against his direct opponent each time, he recovered the ball, with interest, more often than not.

Madrid’s victory in the Classic was another example of this.

For Madrid’s first goal, when David Alaba gave the ball to Vinicius and the gifted Madrid winger did his turn “Now you see the ball, now you don’t” on Oscar Mingueza it’s easy imagine the explosion of adrenaline and endorphins surging through your mind and body. For many wingers, that’s what they live for. The perfect time for street football when you put everything on the line, take on a direct rival, and leave him breathless for both breath and comprehension.

There was a time when this surge of energy sometimes exceeded Vinicius’ powers of judgment and he felt like his feet had wings. This time, Vinicius immediately took a second to think. Instead of harassing the left himself, he changed the game with a nice cross pass to Rodrygo. And he did it for a reason. Like dominoes that fall when the first in a row is knocked down, the Barcelona players rushed towards Madrid’s right, opening a huge space in front of Alaba in full backward flight on the left side and… goal.

But back to Vinicius’ decision off the pitch, when he was a minor and the world’s jewels were thrown at him.

Did you notice, in the 21st minute of the Classic, what happened when Vinicius drew Mingueza into a challenge that narrowly avoided giving a penalty? Angry at what he considered to be a dive, Jordi Alba went nose to nose then forehead to forehead with Vinicius. Things weren’t far from a red card situation if either of the men had nodded forward or raised one hand to push the other’s head away. However, it wasn’t a Real Madrid player who tried to convince Vinicius that it was really important not to be provoked, it was Alba’s Catalan compatriot Gerard Pique.

Pique loves to win and isn’t afraid to provoke a weird opponent, so seeing him try to keep Madrid’s star player on the pitch might seem quite strange. But the Barcelona No.3 has a constant affection for Vinicius and has testified to how close the Brazilian is to wear Blaugrana in the place of Blanco.

Shortly before the Classic, Pique revealed to his online influencer friend Ibai Llanos that, “Vinicius has enormous talent. Did you know he was so about to join Barça? Madrid came in and offered him the double. I called Vinicius personally before the deal was announced as we were going to figure out how to accommodate him in our lodge. And in that phone call he admitted that a deal was practically done with Barca, but at the last minute he joined Madrid because they were offering him everything. “

Barcelona Brazilian talent watcher Andre Cury follows Pique’s version of events – he would say this, right? – that he and the Catalan club felt betrayed and that the only thing that won the battle for Vinicius was that Madrid were investing shocking and impressive money. But the player himself, and this is the version that catches my attention, always explained it quite differently.

In this column from last year, I reported that Vinicius made it clear that it was the “project” and its “development” that had been most important in his mind when the financial benefits of the two deals were balanced. In fact, he still claims that Madrid ultimately won his signing while offering a lower financial incentive than Barcelona.

Vinicius spoke about it on the radio, saying: “Marcelo came to Madrid when he was only 18 and played. [Marco] Asensio had playing time and it felt like the young players were trustworthy at Madrid.

“In making the decision, I always tried to think about what is best for my development. It sounded like a really good project, they promised that I would have a chance to learn and develop myself.

“It all helped me choose Madrid over Barcelona. Barcelona wanted to pay us more but I spoke to Marcelo and Casemiro and it made me realize that it was not about more money but about Good choice.”

So here it is. Yet, surprisingly, to convince Brazil manager Tite, who would seem to know better than everyone else or be an idiot. But think of the happy wheels Carlo Ancelotti and Florentino Perez must have done when they saw the Brazil squad and learned that Vinicius would have the chance to stay in the Spanish capital and rest for the wave of games from here. Xmas.

Vinicius made the right decision five years ago when it would have been easy to accept a bigger financial deal and believe playing with Messi was too appealing to be dismissed. Instead, he focused on Perez’s policy of finding and recruiting the best young talent and felt the Bernabeu was fertile ground for his budding anarchic genius.

Looking at the current situation of both clubs, weighing the progress of Vinicius’ game and appreciating the quality of football that we are witnessing, one should really say, “Good decision, son.”

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