Vinicius Junior is enduring a tough time at Real Madrid. The Brazilian appears to have fallen out of favour under Zinedine Zidane, and he is now a regular on the bench for the club, facing increasing competition for a place in the XI.
Two and a half years after arriving in the Spanish capital, Vinicius is facing a crossroads, having gone from being one of the most exciting talents at the club in 2018/19 under Santiago Solari.
So far this season, 11 players have accumulated more minutes than Vinicius‘ 1,019, showing that he is far from being a starter.
He is still above Eden Hazard‘s total, which is under 500, though he has had his injury problems and has missed 17 matches.
In his first season he managed 1,800 minutes, and in 2019/20 he hit 1,819, also being 12th in the overall squad ranking.
Vinicius appears in the XI and then disappears again without changing Zidane‘s mind. He has taken part in 22 games this season, but only 10 of those have been from the start.
His best run of starts came in October, when he started four consecutive games against Levante, Cadiz, Barcelona, and Borussia Monchengladbach.
Hazard‘s return has seen him from to the bench, and he has only started three times since then, and was even left out against Eibar.
Hazard aside, Vinicius faces competition from Marco Asensio, and even Lucas Vazquez since his emergence in the XI this season.
Even Rodrygo Goes – now injured – appears to have overtaken his compatriot in Zidane‘s plans.
One thing that could change his fortunes would be a hypothetical dismissal of Zidane, but his position at the club seems secure until the end of the season.
The Qatar World Cup will be on his mind, and he will want to feature for Brazil in 2022, having only played 16 minutes as a full international in September 2019. He has been left out of the last six international squads.
Vinicius might be left to rethink his Real Madrid future. He’s under contract until 2025, but he has gone from being one of the brightest talents on the club’s books to struggling to find minutes on the pitch.
It cannot be forgotten that he is only 20 years old, and he has attracted attention from other big European clubs, namely Paris Saint-Germain.