After his second goal against Liverpool, Vinicius Jr. pointed to the shield on his shirt and then pointed to the ground: “Me here, me here!” He yelled. At the height of his big night with Real Madrid, the center of attention in the Champions League quarterfinals, he chose to emphasize his life plan once again: he does not want to go anywhere. He has refused to listen to the details of the interest that PSG has sent him several times. And that of Arsenal, and that of Nice, and the desire to receive him on loan from more than a dozen clubs in the League. "I work a lot. I always dreamed of playing for Real Madrid and that is why I kiss my shield, ”he said after the match in which UEFA chose him as the best player and which launched him on the front pages of the world.
The people who work with Vinicius (Brazil; 20 years) coincide in the player's infatuation with the club, summarized by Fred Pena, his agent and CEO of TFM, the company that represents him: “He loves him very much. In his first season, he already bought a house in Madrid. That's not normal, but he thinks, 'This is where I'm going to be all my life,' he says. As soon as he arrived, in the summer of 2018, he began renting the house, but a few months later, when he began to appear in the Solari line-ups, after landing in Castilla, he launched into acquiring it. The jump – not only in sports – had been almost interplanetary: between the ages of 14 and 18, he went from the São Gonçalo neighborhood, near one of the worst favelas in Rio de Janeiro, to the former home of Dimas Gimeno, former president of El Corte Inglés, in La Moraleja.
ENTREVISTA | Vinicius: "Dribbling is easier than scoring"
There he lives surrounded by a small colony of family, friends and employees, a dozen people who try to create a small world of their own halfway between São Gonçalo and a high-rise center. performance. On Tuesday, after the game, the professional area was waiting for him: the physio, Thiago Lobo, and his stretcher, to complete the routines of a happy day. Although in reality, according to sources in his circle, after months of criticism for his lack of aim, it was more a relief than a joy.
Lobo, imported from Santos to Madrid when Vinicius injured his ankle in 2019, was an addition too late, according to Pena, who remembers that the first time he thought about it was a few months before the footballer arrived in Spain. “I met Kaka at Harvard, in a course of a few days in which there were entertainment executives and ex-athletes like Chris Bosh [ex-NBA]. In the end, they asked what the worst mistake of their careers had been, and when it was Kaká's turn he said: 'Not having had my own clinical staff , because of the injuries.' Pena studied adding him to Vinicius's expedition, but since he was going to start playing for Castilla, in Segunda B, he says he wanted to protect him from criticism: "So they wouldn't say 'who does this child think himself to be?"
He loves Madrid very much. In his first season, he already bought a house in Madrid. That's not normal, but he thinks, "This is where I'm going to be all my life," says his agent, Fred Pena.
Then came the fateful tie against Ajax. After the first leg, Pena met with Edwin van der Sar, executive of the Dutch club, whom she had also met at Harvard: “He warned me that he believed that Vini was being used too much, and that it could be dangerous, because he was very young ", He says. He returned to Brazil for the carnival and watched from there, at his beach house, the return match in which the footballer was injured: "At that moment I felt an impulse to vomit, something very strange in my stomach," he recalls. Then they hired Lobo, who is also a physical trainer.
After the injury, nothing was the same: Madrid had been left out of all competitions and Solari was no longer on the bench. Zidane had returned, who has contemplated the evolution of Vinicius with intermittent suspicion, without finishing seeing him ready to settle in a stable way in the eleven.
The footballer, who before breaking the ligaments in his right ankle against Ajax had imagined himself with Brazil in the Copa América that summer after his first call-up, saw that dream vanish and how hard it was for him to understand what Zidane expected from the band and Benzema on the field. He began to doubt when to face and when to stop, and kept going out of tune when he stepped on the area and looked at the goalkeeper. What he did not doubt was his intention to cling to Madrid, despite the fact that in the times when he played less, proposals to leave on loan continued to arrive. The people who live and work with him admit that they were hard times, but they assure that Vinicius neither sank nor lost his smile.
Fred Pena maintains that, despite the slowdown caused by the injury, they were actually meeting the scheduled deadlines: “He The plan was to start playing after two years, not six months. This was the season when I was going to start going to the bench, ”he says. “I see him where he thought he would be when he was 20 years old. He plays many minutes, but he is not a Madrid starter or a superstar. You have to be able to make the big plays more consistently. At that point he would become a superstar. ”
Despite the cautions of his environment and the uncertainty of the outcome of the Madrid season, with the classic on Saturday, Tuesday night's explosion against Liverpool instantly raised his general consideration . Also his options to stay where he wants.
After the game, a photographer photographed Florentino Pérez lovingly holding Vinicius's hand while talking to Fabinho, a former Castilla player. “He loves him a lot”, they say from Valdebebas.
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