Is a 16 year-old worth $48 million? Real Madrid think so.
It was just confirmed yesterday that Spanish giants, Real Madrid, have sign 16-year-old Brazilian star Vinícius Júnior for $48M. 48 million is a big investment into any player, not-to-mention a 16 year-old. So, like I presume the rest of the soccer world did after learning about this bombshell; I wanted to do some research of my own.
After doing my due diligence, I was still left with a ton of questions. The youngster, only as recent as 10 days ago, came on as a substitute in the 82nd minute to make his debut appearance for his club side Flamengo. So, at the club level, there doesn’t seem to be enough of a sample size for me to be convinced that he is worth that price tag. But, let’s dig a little deeper. In March of this year, Junior led the Brazilian U-17’s to Gold in the South American Championships; scoring 7 goals and being named the tournaments’ best player. Now we’re starting to get some answers. But based on the numbers I still wasn’t sold. It wasn’t until I actually watched some of his highlights that I finally had that ‘uh-huh’ moment. (Vinicius Junior highlight video). The kid is something special. He not only offers that elusive style of play, but like many Brazilians before him, his soccer IQ is off the charts.
At the moment, Junior’s play is drawing heavy comparisons with another Brazilian born superstar, Neymar. Junior’s record Brazilian League signing of €39.6m is second only to Neymar’s €86m. At age 17, Neymar made 48 appearances for his club side Santos, and notched 14 goals. Whether he likes it or not, his numbers moving forward will constantly be compared to Neymar’s. That being said, I am looking for at least a 15-goal season from him next year. That will justify this signing.
So, the question still remains, is the sample size big enough for Real Madrid? In all honesty, I don’t think the money really matters to them. A part of me believes that Madrid is still ruing from the bidding war they lost 5 years ago at the hands of Barcelona for then ‘can’t miss’ Brazilian talent, Neymar. It looks like this time around they were determined to one up any other competitors. Junior is set to join Real Madrid in 2019, when his 18 years old. Only time will tell if this move will be seen as a well-calculated decision, or a gamble gone wrong.