Vinicius and Rodrygo: Real Madrid's next 'galácticos'
Key acquisitions in Real Madrid's youth-first transfer policy, Vinicius and Rodrygo have earned huge praise in Brazil for their goals against Osasuna.
On Wednesday, Real Madrid earned all three points against Osasuna thanks to two moments of individual brilliance that bode extremely well for the future.
Vinicius, Rodrygo seal Osasuna win with fine strikes
First, Vinicius Junior ended his seven-month goal drought with a powerful first-half drive into the top corner from the edge of the area (aided, admittedly, by a slight deflection that helped carry the ball past goalkeeper Rubén Martínez). Then, deep into the second half, Rodrygo Goes sealed victory just 133 seconds after being brought on for his competitive debut, controlling the ball exquisitely - indeed, his first touch was described as "bloody brilliant" by Zinedine Zidane - before cutting inside and drilling into the net superbly. Despite both players still being in their teens, Madrid have invested a total of 85 million euros in a pair who, within the club, have been marked out as the leaders of Los Blancos' next generation.
They are the next 'galácticos'.
In their native Brazil, the midweek performances of Vinicius and Rodrygo - who are both on the final, 40-man shortlist for the 2019 Golden Boy award - certainly did not go unnoticed. "Beaming boss" was Globoesporte's headline as it discussed Zidane's post-match praise for the duo, while the media outlet's match report from the Spanish capital led with the line "Pleased to meet you", beside a photo of Rodrygo bowing before the Bernabéu crowd after netting the hosts' second. Meanwhile, the 18-year-old's former club, Santos, didn't miss the chance to congratulate him on his goalscoring debut. "What a star: first game, first goal," the Peixes posted on social media. "What a force of nature the Menino da Vila is!"
An article in UOL, meanwhile, spoke of the "tears of redemption" shed by Vinicius after scoring. "The 19-year-old is a voracious reader of football news, and the problem is that the criticism he's had for his inability to find the net has translated into memes and offensive posts that the forward is affected by," UOL said. "It has been clear to those around the player just how down in the dumps he has been. [...] Although unhappy about his limited opportunities and his switch of flanks, he feels profound admiration for Zidane, and has asked him to help improve his finishing."
Real Madrid's transfer strategy
Vinicius and Rodrygo are at the centre of a transfer policy that Madrid's president, Florentino Pérez, has been following for a while now. With the game's top, established performers fetching increasingly astronomical fees, the LaLiga giants have turned their focus to snapping up the world's leading future prospects and turning them into stars at the Bernabéu. It is a strategy that has also seen the club sign the likes of Marco Asensio, Dani Ceballos, Brahim Díaz, Éder Militao, Luka Jovic, Andriy Lunin, Takefusa Kubo, Alberto Soro, Martin Odegaard...
Only time will tell whether Madrid's investment bears fruit; right now, Rodrygo and Vinicius are both among the world's four most valuable players aged 19 or under, according to information compiled by the specialist website Transfermarkt.com. Rodrygo (40m) is in joint fourth place alongside Everton's Moise Kean, with Vinicius (70m) third. They are behind only Jadon Sancho and Joao Félix, who are tied for first place on 100m. In Brazil, there is no doubt: they are the leaders of a new generation of stars also including Fluminense forward Joao Pedro, RB Leipzig striker Matheus Cunha and Atlético Madrid left-back Renan Lodi.
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