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'Maturing' Real Madrid signing Vinicius Jr. inspires Flamengo to crucial win

Craig Burley believes Real Madrid may face one of their toughest roads yet in their quest for a Champions League three-peat.

Flamengo coach Reinaldo Rueda hailed Vinicius Junior's maturity after the 17-year-old, who joins Real Madrid next year, inspired his side to a place in the Copa Libertadores.

In May, Madrid announced that they had signed Vinicius from July 2018, when the Brazil youth international turns 18, in a reported €45 million transfer.

And he sparked a crucial Flamengo victory over Vitoria de Trellez, coming on with his team a goal down on the hour and, within minutes, setting off on a driving run that led to Rafael Vaz equalising. He was then also involved as Diego Ribas scored a 96th winner.

And Rueda told Lance: "He was fundamental. He has improved a lot. He is more a team player, less nervous, and is improving, maturing.

"For us it is very positive that Vinicius can break open games for us in important moments."

Meanwhile, Madrid may add another forward before Vinicius arrives, with Marca reporting that president Florentino Perez, managing director Jose Angel Sanchez and coach Zinedine Zidane met after the 0-0 draw at Athletic Bilbao to discuss potential targets including Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi.

However, asked about the reported interest on Argentine channel Telefe, Icardi said: "I have everything as a Nerazzurri.

"We are going well here in Italy, my team is top of the table, and I'm top goal scorer. What more can I ask for?"

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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