Real Madrid have long believed in Vinicius‘ talent, even though his development has stalled somewhat since Zinedine Zidane‘s return.
Yet the Brazilian was the team’s saviour on Wednesday evening, scoring a winning goal against Real Valladolid from the bench.
Zidane, too, believes in the talent that the former Flamengo prodigy has, but it’s fair to say he doesn’t yet trust him to be a guaranteed starter.
Having not selected him to start in either of Los Merengues’ opening two LaLiga Santander matches, there was a feeling of surprise when the French coach turned to Vinicius in the last quarter of the clash with Real Valladolid.
For once, the Brazilian was stationed on his preferred left side, with Eden Hazard not around to challenge him for this role, and he made all the difference.
The in-game switch to a 4-3-3 formation instantly woke the hosts up, with Marco Asensio making a number of smart diagonal passes which stretched the opposing defence.
There was an air of fortune about how the ball eventually fell to Vinicius for his goal, but there was a steely-eyed composure about the way he slotted it into the back of the net.
The celebration was muted, but for a team that has lacked goals so desperately over the past 18 months it was the kind of finish which made everyone sit up and take note.
“What Vinicius has to do is focus,” explained Zidane during pre-season, and that is exactly how the youngster approached his opportunity on the pitch on Wednesday evening.
It was his ninth goal for Los Blancos and his first from the bench, in what was his 71st match for the Spanish giants.
In theory, the strike should relieve the pressure on the Brazilian somewhat, especially with Hazard not yet close to a return.
An interesting battle is developing in Spain between talented young players striving to take on the mantle from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with many pitting Ansu Fati up against Vinicius.
Fati had appeared more likely to get minutes under Ronald Koeman this term, but Vinicius‘ goal on Wednesday will do him no harm.