Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior Can Become World Class, Says Fernando Morientes

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 06: Vinicius Jr of Real Madrid reacts during the Copa del Semi Final match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at Nou Camp on February 06, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Teenage sensation Vinicius Junior is quickly gaining plaudits at Real Madrid, and ex-Spain striker Fernando Morientes believes he can become world class at his old club. 

Head coach Santiago Solari has promoted Vinicius, 18, to the first team and seen his stock rise over recent weeks. He most recently impressed in Real's 1-1 Copa del Rey semi-final draw at Barcelona on Wednesday, and Morientes said the €45 million signing can reach the pinnacle of the sport, per Goal's Jon Fisher:

"We were all keen to see Vinicius play, to see how he develops. I think he's a very impressive player, he's very good in one-on-ones and making runs.

"He's still very young, we need time to see the kind of player he will be but if he continues to play the way he is now he'll be a world-class player, no doubt.

"We should give him time though, you can't burden such a young player with too much responsibility especially at a club like Real Madrid."

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague appeared on BBC 5 Live Sport after Wednesday's draw and likened Vinicius to both Brazilian icon Ronaldo and his namesake, Cristiano Ronaldo:

BBC 5 Live Sport @5liveSport

Part 🇵🇹Cristiano Ronaldo + part Ronaldo 9⃣ 🇧🇷 = Vinicius Jr? Join 🎙 @GuillemBalague 🎙 @Steve_Crossman 🎙 @MinaRzouki 🎙 @LaurensJulien on the Euro Leagues podcast 👇 📲⚽ https://t.co/cPwV7ZbQ95 https://t.co/tsAJGpBaFt

Morientes scored 100 goals in 272 appearances for Los Blancos, and the 42-year-old added Vinicius reminds him of another former Brazilian attacker, Savio, who won three European crowns in the same era as Morientes:

"Obviously Savio was a little older, but they have similar traits; daring, pace on the ball and one-on-one ability.

"And they're both Brazilians, of course. Both came from a very different football style in Brazil, but they adapted quickly.

"So I'd say Vinicius reminds me of Savio, for their playing style and their position out on the left."

Eleven Sports showed the pace he demonstrated against Barca in midweek:

Eleven Sports @ElevenSports_UK

| ⚡️⚡️⚡️ | So, Vinicius Junior is quick... 😳 🏃‍♂️💨 https://t.co/wbhnTF1cjW

Sports writer Ben Hayward showed the Spanish headlines are also turning in favour of Vinicius as he seeks superiority in Real's pecking order:

Ben Hayward @bghayward

“No contest”, say AS (or along those lines) on their front page, where they describe Marcelo as a “sieve” and add that Real Madrid “got worse” when Bale replaced Vinícius... #RealMadrid #ElClasico https://t.co/8WIyc5ylhH

The former Flamengo forward recently scored his first goal in La Liga during Real's 3-0 rout of Alaves on Sunday. 

The youngster's previous club was struck by tragedy on Friday when a fire at the club's training centre killed 10 people.

Vinicius posted his condolences on Twitter (h/t Eurosport): "What sad news! Praying for everyone! Strength, strength, strength."

Vinicius Jr ⚡️ @vini11Oficial

Que notícia triste! Oremos por todos! Força, força e força 😢

Real's next game is against city rivals Atletico on Saturday, with the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie against Ajax taking place four days later.