Tipped for greatness ever since he burst onto the scenes in Brazil, Vinicius Jr has well and truly taken the step towards superstardom over the past couple of years.
The Brazilian enjoyed a spectacular 2021/22 campaign, in particular, playing an integral role in Real Madrid’s La Liga and UEFA Champions League triumphs.
The 22-year-old scored the only goal of the game in the Champions League final against Liverpool.
In a recent interview with Sport Bible, Vinicius opened up on the feeling of being the match-winner for Real Madrid on the biggest stage, saying: “I think it was certainly the most important goal of my career. The most beautiful, the most special.”
“It was a very important moment, winning the Champions League at 22 and scoring in the final. It will be remembered forever, even more so being at a club that wins so much and loves this competition.”
The Brazilian speedster however insisted that he does not intend to stop at that and wishes to continue scoring such vital goals for Los Blancos.
“I’m very happy, but I don’t want to stop there. There are a lot of Champions Leagues ahead and I want to win as many as possible,” he added.
One of the most important players at Real Madrid currently, Vinicius is understood to have penned a new long-term contract with the club, although an announcement has not yet been made.
When asked if he does not dream of playing in another competition like the Premier League, the 22-year-old insisted that he wants to spend his entire career at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“It is true that I’m very happy here at Real Madrid and I think I will play here until the end of my career. Of course, experiencing another league is important and I think the Premier League is a league that every player wants to play in. But my dream is and always was to play for Real Madrid.”
In recent times, Vinicius has come face-to-face with many English opponents in the Champions League. When asked to pick the toughest defenders he has faced, the Real Madrid ace named Chelsea’s Reece James and Kyle Walker of Manchester City.
“I’ve played against a lot of them and the most difficult opponents were Chelsea’s [Reece] James and [Kyle] Walker, of Manchester City,” said Vinicius.
The Real Madrid forward also revealed that he is very close with Manchester United and England winger Jadon Sancho, saying:
“I am very close to Sancho, who I played against in youth football. I always wish him the best. We always swap messages and I’m very happy when he scores or plays well.”
Vinicius came eighth in the Ballon d’Or rankings this year, with his teammate Karim Benzema going on to win the golden orb. On being asked whether he has ambitions to win the award in the near future, the 22-year-old replied:
“I’m always very relaxed when I play. I think about the best for my team, try to do my best and be the best version of myself. If in the future I can be the best in the world… that depends on how my season goes. I have to keep working and improving to keep achieving my dreams.”
At the same time, he also hailed Benzema, saying: “I’m very happy with Karim’s performance last season and happy for having contributed a bit to him being the best in the world, having worked so hard playing at the biggest club in the world.”
“It’s always very difficult and he is very dedicated and deserves this award a lot.”
Vinicius also spoke about representing Brazil in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar next month and the possibility of winning the tournament, although he admitted that there will be a lot of hurdles for Selecao.
“It’s a little bit difficult, right? The best team is always the team that won the last World Cup. I think France are the best at the moment. But at the World Cup that can change and there are a lot of teams with a good chance of winning,” Vinicius stated.
“Argentina is doing very well, Brazil, England, Germany… they are all teams that will be strong in this World Cup – and may Brazil win! I think I will be playing; it is going to be a very special World Cup for me and for everyone with high hopes for Brazil. After so long, to have a strong team – it is important for us.”
Real Madrid’s 29-year-old star upset with his situation, desires more clarity on role
At Real Madrid, the quest for securing a spot in the first-team lineup involves battling it out with some of the best players in European football.
Competition is generally considered the perfect antidote to complacency and the Merengues‘ immensely talented roster encapsulates that sentiment best.
While injuries have done a number on the team, there is still an abundance of competition in the squad. As of now, the fight for a spot in the starting lineup is most intense among the goalkeepers.
Indeed, since the beginning of the campaign, there has been no fixed goalkeeper with both Andriy Lunin and Kepa Arrizabalaga featuring between the sticks alternately.
However, after being acquired on a season-long loan to fill in the absence of Thibaut Courtois, Kepa is not entirely content with his situation.
Kepa unsatisfied with the unclarity
Indeed, as per The Athletic, Kepa is extremely disappointed with his situation and how the coaching staff at Real Madrid have been handling the matter.
Ancelotti has not clearly explained his reasoning as to which of Lunin and Kepa is currently his first-choice keeper.
And according to sources close to him, Kepa is unhappy and would have preferred further clarification on the matter from the manager.
Lunin in the driving seat
Owing to Lunin’s exceptional form lately, he has successfully displaced Kepa as the first-choice goalkeeper.
In fact, Kepa has not started a game since Real Madrid’s clash against Almeria last month in which they leaked two goals.
It is safe to assume Kepa’s frustrations stem from the fact that he initially arrived as the primary keeper to replace Courtois and turned down an offer from Bayern Munich to join the Madrid outfit.
As such, being shunned and having minimal clarity from the coaching staff’s preferred goalkeeper has led to dissatisfaction.
As things stand, Real Madrid have no plans of signing him permanently, given that Chelsea would ask around €20 million for him, something that the club have intentions of paying.