Real Madrid will not be signing Neymar this summer, but they might have the next Brazilian superstar in their ranks already.
Florentino Perez agreed to fork out a cool £38.7 million for Flamengo’s Vinicius Junior last summer because the Madrid president didn’t want to miss out on signing the potential ‘new Neymar’.
A host of big European clubs were hoping to secure Vinicius’s signature, but it was Madrid who won the battle.
Because he was only 16 at the time, though, Los Blancos needed to wait until this summer before the gifted South American forward could move to the Spanish capital.
Now 18, Vinicius was finally unveiled at the Bernabeu last Friday - and he wowed supporters by pulling off an array of fancy tricks.
The teenager has also been impressing in training. Based on the video clips which has emerged so far, Vinicius looks razor sharp, lightning quick and keen to impress his new teammates and coaches.
With Cristiano Ronaldo now gone, Vinicius will be desperate to convince Julen Lopetegui that he deserves a place in Madrid’s starting line-up.
Real Madrid's plan for Vinicius revealed
He should get opportunities to catch the eye in pre-season, with Madrid set to take on some of Europe’s best teams.
The reigning European champions face Manchester United, Juventus and AS Roma over the coming weeks before their UEFA Super Club clash against Atletico Madrid on August 15.
There’s been talk that Madrid could loan out Vinicius for the upcoming season but Spanish newspaper Marca understand this won’t be the case.
The Spanish giants have a plan for the Brazilian starlet; however, it’s a risky one which could potentially backfire.
The idea is that Vinicius will earn some minutes with the club’s B team, Real Madrid Castilla, when he’s not playing for the first team. He was also frustrated at having to train alongside the club’s youth players, despite the fact he was the same age.
Castilla currently compete in Segunda B, the third tier of Spanish football, and it seems bizarre that a player worth almost £40 million will be playing at that level this season.
Have they not learned anything from Martin Odegaard?
The reason we know it might backfire is because Madrid did the exact same thing with Martin Odegaard when he arrived at the Bernabeu back in 2015.
Madrid promised the attacking midfielder, who had already been capped by Norway’s senior side at this point, that he would train with the club’s superstars and get some minutes in the first team.
However, he was forced to wait until the very last game of the season before making his first-team debut and Carlo Ancelotti later admitted he was forced to play the teenager in that match, describing it as a “PR stunt”.
Odegaard’s development was stifled by playing with Castilla because of the huge drop-off in competitiveness down in Segunda B.
"The Segunda B is a difficult division,” Odegaard told reporters, “with a lot of difficult teams and pitches that are often poor.”
Segunda B is of considerably lower quality than the Brazilian top flight, where Vinicius has plied his trade over the past couple of seasons, and he’ll also be exposed to tough play from opponents.
It will be down to Castilla coach Santiago Solari to help keep Vinicius focused and motivated when he drops down from the first team.
Because of what happened to Odegaard, this plan feels extremely risky - but Madrid clearly feel he’ll learn more staying with them than he would out on loan at another La Liga club.