Real Madrid announced they have signed Brazilian super prospect Vinicius Junior on Tuesday. Junior is only 16 years old, and FIFA regulations do not allow international transfers of players before reaching their 18th birthday, so Junior will be unable to join Real Madrid until July 2018. Until then, he is expected to continue playing with the Brazilian club Flamengo. Early reports are that the transfer fee is about 45 million euros, which would make Junior the most expensive Brazilian signing since Neymar joined Barcelona in 2013 at a fee of 57.1 million euros. Real Madrid reportedly beat out Barcelona for the bidding war over Junior’s services.
Junior made his senior professional debut with Flamengo just this month, but he was already a rising star pegged for success when he finished as the top scorer and Most Valuable Player award winner at the 2017 South American Under-17 Championship in March. In fact, Flamengo staff members say that Real Madrid began scouting him as early as 11 years old. In the announcement of the deal, Real Madrid called Junior “a skillful, pacy attacker who is able to go past players and has an eye for goal” and “one of the brightest emerging talents in world football.”
After the move was announced, he tried to keep a cool demeanor in an interview with Fox Sports Brazil, recognizing that while he has dreamed of playing with international superstars such as Cristiano Ronald and Gareth Bale, he knows he still needs to mature. “I want to arrive there with a cool head and spend time at Flamengo, one or two years, in order to arrive more matured. I will think about Madrid in two years. I want to win many titles with the Flamengo jersey.” As for getting to play against national legend Neymar, Junior said, “I want to send a hug to Neymar and tell him that he is my idol.”