Vinicius Junior – whose full name is the snappy Vinicius Jose Paixao de Oliveira Junior – is widely tipped to be one of the game’s future stars. Such is the excitement around Real Madrid’s new recruit, in fact, that comparisons are already being made with Neymar.
Still only 18, he began in the youth set-up of Brazilian club Flamengo, initially within its futsal academy. Despite initially failing the selection process for the youth academy, he returned a year later, choosing football over futsal. The decision proved wise, as he tore through the youth system at Flamengo. As soon as he hit his 16th birthday, and having already represented Brazil at both Under-15 and Under-17 level, he was offered his first professional contract at Flamengo. It included a staggering €30m buyout clause.
Immediately after making his professional debut in a 1-1 draw against Atletico Mineiro, Vinicius’ contract was extended, with the buyout clause rising to €45m as rumours grew of interest from both Real Madrid and Barcelona. It took less than two weeks before an agreement was reached with Real for the young attacker’s signature, with a move confirmed for when he turned 18 this summer.
Despite his meteoric rise, Vinicius has yet to play for the senior Brazilian side, or even the Under-20 team. It is highly anticipated that he will be included in senior squads sooner rather than later, however, particularly if he settles in well at his new club.