I know I wrote here recently about Vinicius.
I know I gave thanks that, with the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly broken up, it’s heaven-sent that two fabulous talents of roughly the same age – he and Ousmane Dembélé – stand in line to assume the mantle of cross-Clásico greatness.
But I didn’t emphasise sufficiently how extraordinary Real Madrid’s scintillating Brazilian really is.
I didn’t do so because it’s been hard to stay abreast of the extraordinary progress the 18-year-old has been making.
Firstly, I think it’s worth stating that whatever you’re doing between now and May, unless it’s a penitentiary stretch in Craiginches or Peterhead, a five-month Trappist retreat up Bennachie or lobbying Parliament that referees should apply the laws of football to Rangers just like they do to everyone else, then please dedicate your time to watching Real Madrid’s astonishing left winger. If, because of the lamentable fact that you can’t currently watch La Liga on terrestrial or satellite TV (albeit that I reckon it’ll be on BT Sport from August), you’ve not seen this astonishing footballer play, then let me describe him.
Vinicius is a kid. Most of us didn’t get out of secondary school until his age or thereabouts.
I don’t know how far back you remember but at 18 I had nothing much more on my mind than sneaking out of classes, playing pool during the day and nicking in to the pub at night without being asked my age.
Vinicius Junior is different.
For the last two years he’s known that he’s worth €46 million in transfer fee to the European and World Champions (they bought him when he was 16) – for the last couple of months he’s proven that they’ve got a huge bargain.
You won’t, ever, find me in favour of adding to football inflation by joining the incessant chat of “players deserve more and more cash for their services…” – certainly not at the elite level.
The fact remains, however, that in Spain the wages a player earns are directly linked to the “buy-out clause” which is written into his contract. High wages equal high buy-out clause.
I mention this because Vinicius is such an exceptional creature that it’s ALREADY time for Madrid to rip up their plans, to invest in their future and to pay him so much more, for such an extended period that his buy-out clause becomes absolutely unreachable for other, predatory clubs. This guy plays at pace, off both feet, with imagination.
He’s going to become much more of a scoring threat as his game matures and he’s a kid of 18 who plays with the maturity of a 28-year-old.
In my humble opinion, the extraordinary Kylian Mbappé included, this is not simply the best young player in the world, he’s the most extraordinary “breakthrough” footballer since Leo Messi over 15 years ago. For his opponents it’s: catch him if you can. For us it’s: catch him WHENEVER you can.