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What Vinicius needs to prove for Real Madrid

The Brazilian star will more than likely have to be even more decisive than last season, in the face of Benzema’s foreseeable gaps.

MADRID, SPAIN - JULY 11: Vinicius Junior player of Real Madrid is training at Valdebebas training ground on July 11, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Antonio Villalba/Real Madrid via Getty Images)
Antonio VillalbaGetty

Vinicius Jr’s last season was a spectacle to behold. In his first three seasons at Real Madrid (he arrived in the summer of 2018) you could see a player with speed, who was mesmerizing at times when one-on-one with a defender, but who had problems making the right decision when he approached the goal. This changed in the 2021/22 campaign, being a key player in the achievement of the two big titles (Champions League and LaLiga) with the European Super Cup still to come. Together with striker Karim Benzema, he was Carlo Ancelotti’s main offensive weapon.

However, the 2022/23 season will be a bit different. Benzema will turn 35 in December and will play in the World Cup in Qatar, so he will need more breathing space throughout the season. And that’s where the 22-year old will have to assume a greater role within the team.

What can Vini offer Los Blancos this year?

It is true that the growth of the Brazilian in the last year has been tremendous. Providing 22 goals and 16 assists across all competitions, which constitutes 27.5% of Madrid’s collective goal tally and 16.9% of assists.

If you look back, to just the previous season (2020/21) he only scored six goals. His improvement has also translated into a fairly large increase in minutes from campaign to campaign. While he only played 40% of the minutes (1917) in the 2020/21 season, this increased to practically every game that was played (82% of the available minutes). Quite a remarkable turnaround.

As one of the most valuable players in the world (estimated at around $100 million) some have suggested that he is unlikely to improve on this level, but he has shown that he always looking to push on further. In addition to his personal desires, Madrid are going to need him at his very best. After the non-arrival of Kylian Mbappé, and the load of games that a veteran player like Benzema (the main candidate to win the Ballon d’Or this year) will have, Vinicius starts as a fundamental weapon in their attack.

As if that were not enough, the confidence that Ancelotti has given him since his arrival has also been a factor in the growth of the player, who, now more than ever, sees himself as a star. Vinicius (who is about to renew his contract) has shown with his performances against teams like Barcelona, Manchester City and Liverpool that he is capable of winning big, big games. The culmination of his great year was that goal in the Champions League final against the Reds, which allowed Madrid to lift number 14.

But he wants more.

This new season will see more pressure piled onto him than in the previous years, something that comes as a consequence of his level. On Wednesday, 10 August, in the European Super Cup against Eintracht Frankfurt, which will be the beginning of a potential confirmation season for Vinicius, are player with the world at his feet.