Vinicius talks the Ballon d’Or, Mbappé & Haaland, Ancelotti and more..
Vinicius Junior talked in an interview with ‘El Larguero’ where he reviewed his great start to the season, the Ballon d’Or, Xavi and much more. Here’s his interview in full:
Is Vinicius the best player in LaLiga?
Well, it’s the people who say it. I am always focused on helping the club and giving my best.
In Granada another goal. What a change this season…
I am very happy with my start to the season. In the first half I was not well, but I was focused, when I got to the dressing room they gave me the strength I needed to come back as I did in the second half. I want to continue like this to help the team win a lot this season.
What happened to you? Who gives you that strength in the locker room?
I was failing in front of goal, but I never lower my head. I always want to keep fighting and help the team. In the dressing room they always give me the strength I need. It was not a single player, it was not the coach alone, it was everyone. They encouraged me to be at my best and always help.
Has Ancelotti been key to your improvement?
Not just Ancelotti. They have all been key: Solari, Zidane and now Carlo. With him I have more confidence, more minutes, more time to do things well. Three years of lots of training and game time has helped me a lot too. Now Ancelotti has arrived and has given me the confidence I need.
Was that confidence key to you?
Of course. That’s important for all players, but I think I’m also now more ready. Before I don’t know if I was, but now I am. I have prepared to be at the top and continue to help the team for a long time and many seasons.
And how have you noticed it?
Now I’m 21, before I was younger (laughs) I came from Brazil at the age of 18, I had barely played a year in the first team and I came to Real Madrid, the best team in the world and with many great players, and I came to learn. I have learned these years and will continue to learn every day.
It’s your fourth season. You’re now a veteran…
No no no (laughs). Now I am more technically and psychologically prepared. With everyone’s trust, I will always be better.
It’s now seen that you have a better understanding with Benzema.
Now we are playing together a lot more. We already know what the other one is going to do. Karim is a great player, I love playing with him, he always helps me, I want to continue playing with him and have a great season.
Should you win the Ballon d’Or?
Hopefully Karim will win it.
Pedri has won the Golden Boy. Do these awards matter to you?
Of course they are important to the players. They give you confidence. But I think teamwork and team titles are more important than individual ones.
Does Pedri deserve it?
I think so. He played very well last season, and many games. He has played for the National Team, for Barça, for the Olympic National Team … and he has had a very good season. I think it is deserved.
Do you dream of winning the Ballon d’Or one day?
Of course, every player dreams of being a Ballon d’Or winner one day. I keep working, I have a lot of time in football to do many things, to give my best version and to be good with myself, which is the most important thing.
How did you experience criticism and jokes when you missed clear cut chances?
I lived it as I live it now. Very calm, always focused. People at the club and at home tell me that they know what I do every day to help the team. I do not believe that I am the best player now nor did I believe that I was the worst player back then. I am always looking to improve and be good with myself.
Was your worst moment that injury in 2019?
Definitely. When you’re injured you can’t do anything, you can’t work to help the team, you can’t play … It’s my worst moment here, without a doubt. But I never doubted myself. I have always believed that I am going to do great things here, with this team, which has given me so much. The president, the players … everyone has taught me something to be here a long time.
Has anything changed on the street?
Yeah (laughs). Now people ask me for more photos, but this is good. I feel important to the Real Madrid fans, who have always helped me and treated me well. Now I am happy to help on the pitch.
The team are leaders, and are playing well.
We are doing very well, but we have to continue like this. You have to work to be at the top always and in all competitions. At Real Madrid you always have to be the first.
Are you surprised to see Barça so far away?
Yes, but this is just the beginning. Barça will improve. They’ve changed coach now and we have to continue in this line to win LaLiga.
Will Barça improve with Xavi?
I think so, but I am talking about Real Madrid, I am not talking about other teams.
They do talk about you. A scout for Barça said that you were always a Culé.
I don’t wind up outsiders. People who are with me know the truth, that’s why I don’t talk too much.
Were you close to playing for Barça?
The two clubs looked for me and I decided to go to Real Madrid for the project and for what they did for me. I thought it was the best project for me and it was the club with which I had the most affinity. I always loved Real Madrid, I always loved Cristiano Ronaldo and all the players. I made the right choice and I want to stay here for a long time.
It was said that you cried on the day of Barça’s 6-1 match against PSG.
This day I playing a match with Brazil in the South American Championship. I think Real Madrid signed me because of that game. I was the best player, the top scorer… and then I signed with Real Madrid.
So the Barça game worried you much less than yours?
That’s for sure. When I was little I watched very few games. I was always playing football with my friends and this one (Barça vs PSG) I didn’t watch.
At the Camp Nou, you received racist chants. How do you remember it?
It is very sad that these things continue to happen, but I do not give importance to crazy people. I was winning and enjoying the game. But that can never happen again, we must end racism. That can’t happen again. You have to remove those people from the stands.
Have things like this also happened to you in your private life?
Yes, they have happened to me before, but I don’t talk about the bad things. But it is very serious, it must be changed. It can not happen.
How is your renewal coming along?
All players want to play here for a long time. I am lucky to have been here for three years and I want to be here for much longer. I want to have a great career like Cristiano Ronaldo did, like Sergio did, like Marcelo is doing … I want to be here as long as they have.
Are you worried about being one of the lowest paid players in the team?
No. I have the contract that I signed when I was 16 years old. I have to keep working to play here for a long time. Many players would pay to be here. My head is calm. This is the best club in the world and I want to be here for a long time.
You don’t seem to care much about money…
All players want to make money, that is clear. But I am very focused on what I do on the field. My father and mother tell me: the important thing is to play football. I always want to be playing. Of course, how much money I earn is important, but it is not the most important thing. I want to stay here for many years. Since my arrival I have said it: I want to play here for many years.
Would you like to play with Mbappé?
He is a great player, but as I said before about Xavi and Pedri, I am not talking about the players of another team.
But who do you like more: Mbappé or Haaland?
Both. I would sign both of them. They can mark an era like Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or other Real Madrid players.
If Mbappé and Haaland come, and Benzema and you are there, who do we remove?
That has to be left to the coaches (laughs).
Brazil did not call you up during the last international break, it was due to Firmino’s injury that you got the call up. You were one of the best with the team in both games. Does all this surprise you?
No, it does not surprise me because there are many Brazilian players who are always on top. I am very young and the players who are there have more experience. I have done very well, I am very happy with my two games and I want to be in the next World Cup.
A Champions League with Real Madrid or a World Cup with Brazil?
The two, the two (laughs) I have to work hard for that.
So far in the league you have already scored more goals than in the last three years. That is no accident.
That’s a lot of work since I arrived and everyone’s trust. From Solari, Zidane, Ancelotti, the youth coaches … I am very happy. I want to continue like this and have a great season.
Which goal from those you have scored this year is you favourite?
My first goal against Shakhtar Donetsk.