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Vinicius Junior, Real Madrid's NxGn superstar with the world at his feet

17:00 GMT+4 20/12/2018
Vinicius Junior Real Madrid
The talented Brazilian teenager went from nobody to world superstar overnight and is waiting for the chance to take Spain by storm

"It was like a man versus children," they said as the clip went viral.

"This kid has a star," others added, evoking a traditional Brazilian idiom. “How is he not playing for them?” they asked.

Vinicius Junior may yet to have pulled up many trees in the Real Madrid first-team, but in October he offered a glimpse of what’s to come in the Spanish capital with a mesmerising performance against Chile for Brazil’s under-20 side.

He would miss a penalty in the 1-1 draw, but that moment was eclipsed by the flicks, tricks, pace and power he displayed. Just like his two brilliant goals against city rivals Atletico in a B Team fixture for Real earlier this season, the potential and promise of the precocious teenager is there for all to see.

“Vinicius has everything to become a top-quality player,” his international boss at under-17 level, Amadeu, told Brasil Global Tour after the youngster secured a €45 million move to Spain before he’d even turned 18 - €3m for each year he’d been on the planet, splashed out on a player yet to even have played a single minute of football at senior level.

“If he remains focused on his goals, he has all the tools. He has a lot of technical qualities and is showing a cool head in amongst all the glamor that is currently surrounding him. He has remained balanced, and if he stays like that, he can reach the top.”

Vinicius arrived in Spain in June after less than a year spent working his way into the first-team at Flamengo. The leap to the senior game brought with it some teething issues for the teenager who’d gone from a kid barely known in his own neighbourhood to international superstardom overnight.

He certainly didn’t take Brazilian football by storm, but encouragingly showed steady progress at the Rio giants. By the end of his short time with his hometown club, he was beginning to emerge as an influential member of the first-team, his highlight arriving as he inspired his club to victory with two fine goals away to Emelec in the Copa Libertadores.

Indeed, many back home believed Madrid was coming too soon for a youngster who was just finding his feet with the club he loved – a club to whom he bid an emotional and teary farewell on his final outing for an institution that raised him from adolescence. 

"His father came to us when he was just five and ever since he has always performed at a level way above the boys of his age,” said Cacau, a teacher at Escolinha Fla Sao Goncalo, the Flamengo-affiliated school that raised Vinicius.

By 13 years old, he’d been called up for the Brazil Under-15 side by coach Claudio Cacapa and the world was already beginning to take notice. Fast-forward five years and that same world now sits at his talented feet.

Real appear keen not to rush him, and he’s been restricted to just nine first-team outings so far, but there’s a difficult balancing act to find as they try to slow down the meteoric rise of a young man who was thrust into the limelight at a speed every bit as dazzling as his dribbles down the left-wing proved that October afternoon against Chile.