The Millennium’s First Ballon D’Or Talent
Throughout the history of Brazilian football, every generation has seemed to produce a stand out player, someone that, despite their age, sits head and shoulders above the rest. A superstar, if you like. A player destined to shine on the world’s biggest stage. The last 20 years has seen Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaká claim football’s greatest individual accolade, with many expecting Neymar Jr to add to that list in the not-so-distant future. For all of these players, their path to greatness has followed a similar pattern. From developing their abilities through endless hours of futsal to rapidly rising through the ranks of some of Brazil’s most prestigious academies, impressing at U20 level, before making the step up to their retrospective clubs professional sides. One such player tipped to follow a very similar path is Flamengo’s Vinícius Jr.
Despite being 16, the youngster has already showcased his immense talent to audiences throughout Brazil during the famed Copinha (Brazil’s biggest & most prestigious u20 youth tournament). Setting the world alight even more, Vinícius led the Brazil’s U17 side to Copa America glory, registering 7 goals and 3 assists in 8 games, picking up both ‘Best Player’ & ‘Top Goalscorer’ awards in the process. A prominent figure throughout Brazil youth set-ups in recent years, his remarkable talent has been on display for some time, with his runner-up finish in the 2015 Copa America U15 Golden Boot. However, it has not been until recently that the masses have started to take notice of the 16-year-old. The last 6 months has seen the player’s fame rise astronomically, something his continuing exceptional performances have only warranted, with the 16 year old already being tipped by many as the heir to the Brazilian footballing throne.
Playing primarily from the left hand side, but with the ability to operate anywhere along a forward line, Vinicius Jr’s talent is unquestionable. The youngster posseses a frightening combination of pace, power and supreme technical ability. Capable of the outrageous, remarkable in tight spaces, and with an astute passing range to boot, it’s hard not to describe the Flamengo boy as the complete footballer. Whether it be at U17 or U20 level, the 16-year-old has continually stood out, despite often being younger, as levels above his peers. Despite his tender age, it shouldn’t be too long before he makes his long-awaited professional debut. The player’s recent endeavours haven’t come without interest from the European elite and heavy speculation as to where the boy from Brazil’s future lies. Real Madrid and Barcelona are both thought to be ‘extremely interested,’ with the Catalans having scouted the player ‘for months’. Recent reports suggest Barcelona are very keen on striking a deal with Flamengo, which would give the Spanish giants first refusal/option on the youngster, with the Rio club hoping to further extend his contract to 2020. The player himself, speaking to Brazil’s network SporTV, is adamant he will remain in Brazil until his contact ends in 2019. “I have a contract with Flamengo until 2019, and I’m going to fulfil that contract they gave me.”
Are there any doubts? Speculation about the player’s lavish party lifestyle and questions over his mentality have surfaced recently, but none of which has been evident in his recent performances. Something I’m sure however, both Flamengo and Brazil will be looking to keep to a minimum as the player enters perhaps the most crucial stage of development of his anticipated journey to greatness.
Photo Credit: Flamengo