Savio: “Vinicius? If dribbling is provocative, something is wrong”
Like Vinicius, Savio Bortolini joined Real Madrid from Flamengo. He dedended Vin in an interview with AS: “What is happening to him is unfortunate”.
It’s February but it seems much milder in Rabat. A spring sun warms La Marina, an exclusive area of the Moroccan capital where Savio Bortolini, one of the most elegant, left-footed players in Brazilian football in recent decades, awaits. He receives AS at the Fairmont Hotel sporting an enviable physique, a wide smile and a desire to talk about football.
Are you disappointed at not having the chance to experience a Real Madrid-Flamengo in Saturday’s final?
Yes, a lot. There was a lot of expectation in Brazil, among Flamengo fans and myself - we all wanted Madrid-Flamengo in the final. Losing the semi-final was disappointing. In my country, it is still only the start of the season, but when you have an objective as important as the Club World Cup, the preparation has to be different. It was also difficult for Madrid, but that shows how football has grown in other parts of the world. Nobody wins easily anymore.
What do you think about Vinicius?
I love him! Because, once he gets the ball, he will take on anyone he faces. And if it doesn’t work out, he will try again. I like players like that. Besides his game, I like his mentality. And what a goal against Al Ahly!
I suppose you are aware about the toxic atmosphere that has been generated around him in the Spanish League?
I don’t understand it, to be honest. It’s unfortunate what is happening. I don’t see anything that justifies what is happening to him. From the outside, I see a kid who tries to play and makes use of his best feature on the field, which is dribbling. And his pace. I don’t see provocation. If dribbling past a rival is provocative, then something is not right, we are losing football. He is a kid who people enjoy watching. It is sad what is happening. It’s a shame and something that I don’t understand. It’s the opponents who provoke him. I hope everything calms down and we can focus only on watching football.
If dribbling is provoking, then you were a born provocateur...
I know! But what do you do with the ball? Do you always pass it to the person next to you? My God! All players have their own characteristics - some of them are good at marking, others are excellent passers, scorers... and there are also dribblers. I grew up in Brazil watching our dribbling, improvisational football, from Garrincha... My characteristics were a bit like his - and Vini’s, it was all about dribbling and speed, and it was never a provocation or anything like that. It was just my way of trying to play better and do it well, nothing more.
Rodrygo says that he sees himself as a No.10. Do you think that’s the position where he best fits in this Madrid side?
Good question! (laughs). That kid, apart from his quality, has a way on the field of reading the game in different ways. You put him on the right wing and he does well - on the left and he does well, in the centre... a little further back... He is a footballer who has a unique intelligence to carry out very different functions. It’s very difficult to find a player with those qualities at this level.
Endrick looks great...
He is 16 years old but what I have seen of him in Brazil, I have liked a lot. He is still a kid, he has to evolve a lot and that process is still missing, but he has a lot of strength and enormous potential. We don’t know what the future holds for him, but he is a signing that can succeed at Madrid.
Chelsea spent almost ten times what the entire Spanish league combined spent on transfers in January. Is Madrid’s strategy of signing youngsters, especially in Brazil, the only way to survive against the Premier League?
Football has changed a lot. Madrid signed me at the age of 23. In the modern game, I would have left Brazil at 18. Madrid is always there, it has to maintain a tradition, those 14 European Cups, and now perhaps an eighth Club World Cup... It cannot have any other policy. If you wait a year for a player, the price rises from 20 million to 100 million.
The gamble didn’t pay off with Reinier though, who emerged like you and Vinicius from Mengão...
It’s not easy. We are talking about very high levels. I saw many players wear the Madrid shirt, players with great potential but didn’t get to play. It is a club with a lot of pressure and results are demanded immediately, always. The Bernabéu is demanding. And not everyone gets a chance to play. Reinier played very well at Flamengo, but adapting sometimes isn’t easy.
Are we facing a Madrid still in transition between the old guard of the five Champions Leagues and the newcomers: Camavinga, Tchouameni, Vini, Rodrygo... ?
Definitely. It is a good mix of experience with youth. It is a process of renewal and the club has been rejuvenating the squad little by little. It is very balanced and continues to generate results. The team won the Champions League last year and that very high competitive level that Madrid has produced for so long is very difficult to achieve.
It will be difficult for anyone to repeat what Madrid achieved in Europe last season.
I watched it from Brazil with my children, who are fans of Flamengo and Madrid, and my God... I experienced very important things in Madrid, La Septima, but last year... What they achieved was crazy . It is a belief they have, Madrid is always very strong. It’s a team that never gives up, you have to kill them, because they don’t give up.
Will we be seeing you back in Spain to see in situ how the new Bernabéu looks?
I hope so, yes! I had the honour of playing for five years at the Bernabéu and that is a source of great pride for me. The fans received me with such affection in those stands. It is an update of the football temple and I hope to be there.