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Zidane, open your eyes: Vinicius is the man to fill Asensio void

In the wake of the terrible news that Marco Asensio has ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the debate is raging about which Real Madrid player, or players, ought to 'benefit' from the Spain winger's long-term absence by rising up Zinedine Zidane's pecking order.

For me, Vinicius is the top candidate to come into the team

There has been a lot of talk about Rodrygo Goes and Takefusa Kubo, and speculation that Asensio's injury could even put the brakes on the mooted departures of Gareth Bale and Brahim Díaz.

But I'm struggling to understand how the one name on everyone's lips isn't the man who, for me, is the clear candidate to replace Asensio in the starting XI: Vinicius. Last season, the Brazilian amply demonstrated what he can do during a maiden campaign in Madrid in which, particularly under Santiago Solari, he brought so many things to the team that are badly needed: speed, daring, directness; the ability to beat his marker and open up defences.

Clearly, Vinicius' finishing is something he still needs to work on. However, I'd urge you to take a look at Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's goal-scoring stats when they were his age. It's an area of his game which, if he puts in the hours on the training ground, he'll surely hone in time.

Zidane just doesn't seem that enthused by him, though...

The problem is that Zidane has so far shown a somewhat concerning lack of enthusiasm for Vinicius. Following his re-appointment late last season, Madrid's head coach put off and put off the teenager's return from injury, to such an extent that he ended up missing out on the chance to showcase, and develop, his talents with Brazil on no less a stage than the Copa América.

And in the opening games of the pre-season period, we've been left in little doubt that, in Zidane's eyes, the forward is just another substitute. At the weekend, indeed, he was even behind the Castilla players Álvaro Fidalgo, Jaime Seoane and Adrián de la Fuente until Asensio's injury forced Zidane to turn to him. The Frenchman's public comments about Vinicius have hardly helped to assuage the sense that he's not particularly by excited him, either.

I'd love to see a Vinicius-Benzema-Hazard front three

But Zidane should not ignore the Bernabéu crowd on this one. Last term, Vinicius was among the very, very few things that got the Madrid fans off their seats during what was an utterly wretched campaign for Los Blancos.

I would love to see a Madrid forward line composed of Vinicius, Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard. Wing wizardry and penetration on the flanks, either side of a supremely experienced operator in the area. And with a youthful alternative in Luka Jovic snapping at Benzema's heelsI fear Zidane has other ideas, though. I fear we're going to see a big talent languishing on the bench.