"We need to get Vinicius Junior over here as soon as possible." That's the word among Real Madrid chiefs every time Flamengo are in action and Bernabéu scouts report back on the starlet's performances. Signed up by the LaLiga giants for 45 million euros in May - in a deal that sees him initially remain at the Rio de Janeiro outfit - the 17-year-old has made 34 senior appearances in Brazil, scoring four goals and providing one assist.
Real Madrid to bring Vinicius to Spain after 18th birthday
Vinicius will turn 18 in July 2018, and Real now see that as the ideal moment to bring the Brazilian into the first-team squad. Flamengo had hoped to keep hold of the forward for another year, but Los Merengues feel that he has developed sufficiently in his native country this season. "He's ready to play in Spain," is the oft-repeated verdict.
Zidane keen on Vinicius plan
And head coach Zinedine Zidane has given his thumbs-up to the plan. The Frenchman wants to pursue the same 'modus operandi' as he has, for example, with Dani Ceballos: have him in his squad despite the raft of clubs keen to take him on loan, but avoid giving him an immediate central role in order to protect him (Ceballos has featured for just 19% of Real's total game time since signing from Real Betis).
The decision to bring Vinicius over early is also a way for the club to help satisfy Zidane's desire for new recruits - which he has hinted at - while, since Álvaro Morata's summer departure, both the club and 'Zizou' feel the squad is short of a player with the star quality that Borja Mayoral does not possess; indeed, the striker has been left out of 11 of 23 squads this term, despite Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema missing 12 and six games through injury, respectively, and Cristiano Ronaldo sitting out five due to suspension.
Real Madrid's seventh-most expensive signing
Vinicius is the seventh-most expensive signing in Real Madrid's history, behind Luis Figo (60m euros), Kaká (67.5m), Zidane (75m), James Rodríguez (80m), Cristiano (91m) and Bale (101m). Now that he has shown what he's got in Brazil, Real feel the time is coming to capitalise on him in Spain. They don't want to wait until 2019. The club like his confidence, his potency, his personality and his potential and, with glowing scouting reports arriving on Florentino Pérez's desk, Real's president has been persuaded to act.