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Vinicius Junior: I had a great year despite Real Madrid's struggles

09:53 BST 23/05/2019
ViniciusJunior - cropped
The Blancos may have only won the Club World Cup in 2018-19, but their promising Brazilian forward will look back on a breakthrough season fondly

Vinicius Junior had "a great season" despite Real Madrid falling short in domestic competitions and the Champions League.

Madrid splashed out a reported €45 million to sign Vinicius in May 2017 - when the winger was just 16 years old - but let him stay on loan at Flamengo for another year.

The Brazilian teenager made the move to Europe ahead of the 2018-19 season, which he started by playing for Castilla before becoming a regular part of the first team under Santiago Solari.

Vinicius developed rapidly and was keeping Gareth Bale out of the side after the turn of the year, but an ankle injury sustained against Ajax on March 5 ruled him out for two months and cost him a place in Brazil's Copa America squad.

And although Los Blancos were eliminated from the Champions League at the last-16 stage by Ajax and lost to Barcelona, who they finished 19 points adrift of in La Liga, in the Copa del Rey semi-final, Vinicius was proud of his first campaign in the Spanish capital.

"It was a great season for me. I started at Castilla, but I knew that could happen and that's how it was. Then I went to the first team, I started playing and I learned a lot," he said.

"It was a shame that we did not do well in any of the three competitions, but the team had won three Champions Leagues in a row. Unfortunately, it can happen.

"We all hope things will go better next season. I'm sure we will win again.

"We have to rest, but I'm ready to start all over again."

Vinicius has the backing of many high-profile figures in his ongoing bid to cement a standing among the European elite.

He has been tipped for big things for a number of years now, but those back in his homeland never doubted that he would thrive on the grandest of stages.

World Cup winner Ronaldo has said of Vinicius and the other Samba stars emerging in Madrid: “He is a spectacular talent, as well as Rodrygo, who is an incredible talent. Madrid has been reinforced with very good young talents.”