Vinicius Junior staying 'level-headed' ahead of Madrid move - Flamengo boss
Flamengo coach Reinaldo Rueda says Vinicius Junior has reacted well to his status as a future Real Madrid player, remaining "humble" and eager to learn as he spends a final 12 months developing in Brazil.
Madrid announced in May that they had signed Vinicius, then just 16, from Flamengo, with the reported €45 million transfer effective in July 2018 when the Brazil youth international turns 18.
He has been eased into the senior setup at Flamengo during the current Brazilian season, netting his first senior goal as a substitute in a 5-0 Copa Sudamericana second-round win over Chilean club Club Deportivo Palestino in August, and adding two more against Atletico Goianiense as he completed his first full 90 minutes in the Campeonato Brasileiro later that month.
Rueda left Vinicius on the bench during last weekend's 2-0 win over Sport Recife as he continues to use the teenager sparingly, and the coach told Cadena Ser show "Play Futbol" that he was impressed with how he had handled the attention so far.
"Vinicius has surprised me with his level-headedness during all we have seen in these two years since his explosion with the national team," Rueda said. "He is still 17 and he has great technical quality, physical strength and a great goal-scoring vocation which will get stronger.
"The most impressive is that despite his move to Real Madrid, his behaviour is still excellent. He shows a lot of respect and obedience and is very receptive [to instructions]. He does not cause any problems, remains very humble and talkative with his teammates. He is on a very good path, and we hope that he can bring us a lot before he leaves for Europe."
Vinicius has been compared to Brazil legend Romario by some pundits, but Rueda said it is still early to say how far he can go as a lot would depend on the support he receives as his career unfolds.
"It is difficult to say at the moment, it all depends on how he progresses," he said. "Who will he have as teammates, what will the club be like? We are giving him everything possible so that he keeps growing, keeps developing that natural talent he has and becomes a reality in world football.
"His footballing roof will be determined by his character and personality and the people around him to help him reach his maximum level. For sure he will have that at Real Madrid when he gets there."
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