REAL MADRID

De Melo on Vinicius: “He’s a charismatic player that charms people very quickly"

Eduardo Bandeira de Melo.

The Flamengo president says he was sad to lose Vinicius to Real Madrid, but is also happy to see him becoming a fan favorite at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Eduardo Bandeira de Melo will not continue as president of Flamengo in 2019, as was decided by the club’s members last week. The soon-to-be former president will be most remembered as the one who negotiated the sale of Vinicius to Real Madrid for 45 million euros. And while he would have preferred to have had Vinicius stay at ‘Fla’, De Melo is happy to see the young Brazilian have his opportunity to excel in European football and continues to follow his progress.

“We tried to get him to stay. But we couldn’t compete with a club as big as Madrid. We are very happy for him. We knew he would adapt quickly and in the Champions League (against CSKA) he showed that again,” says De Melo.

"We miss him very much, of course you can feel his absence. But I insist that at that time we didn’t have the requirements to compete with Madrid. I hope that this changes and he comes back in the future, although we never asked Madrid for Vinicius to return in January (as was speculated in the press).”

The 45-million-euro sale of Vinicius in May 2017 offers a massive financial boost to the club, part of which it will use to invest in young players coming up the ranks who want to emulate the Real Madrid player.

“He is an idol for our young home-grown players. Now everyone wants to be like him because he was able to charm the more than 40 million fans that support us from all around the world,” says De Melo of the 18-year-old, who has quickly become a fan favourite at the Santiago Bernabéu.

“He’s a charismatic player that charms people very quickly. He was born with this talent and he knows how to leverage it as much on the field as off it.”

Another young talent from Flamengo, Lincoln played with Vinicius at the underage ranks and is also said to be on Madrid’s radar, although De Melo doesn’t want the club to lose him any time soon: "He has many offers from great teams, but I can’t say any names because for now we don’t want to negotiate.”