Real Madrid star Vinicius: It was a great year for me

By Sports Desk May 23, 2019

Vinicius Junior had "a great season" despite Real Madrid falling short in domestic competitions and the Champions League.

Madrid splashed out a reported €45million to sign Vinicius in May 2017 - when the winger was just 16 years old - but let him stay on loan at Flamengo for another year.

The Brazilian teenager made the move to Europe ahead of the 2018-19 season, which he started by playing for Castilla before becoming a regular part of the first team under Santiago Solari.

Vinicius developed rapidly and was keeping Gareth Bale out of the side after the turn of the year, but an ankle injury sustained against Ajax on March 5 ruled him out for two months and cost him a place in Brazil's Copa America squad.

And although Los Blancos were eliminated from the Champions League at the last-16 stage by Ajax and lost to Barcelona, who they finished 19 points adrift of in LaLiga, in the Copa del Rey semi-final, Vinicius was proud of his first campaign in the Spanish capital.

"It was a great season for me. I started at Castilla, but I knew that could happen and that's how it was. Then I went to the first team, I started playing and I learned a lot," he said.

"It was a shame that we did not do well in any of the three competitions, but the team had won three Champions Leagues in a row. Unfortunately, it can happen.

"We all hope things will go better next season. I'm sure we will win again.

"We have to rest, but I'm ready to start all over again."

Related items

  • Lewandowski confirms contract extension "95 per cent" done Lewandowski confirms contract extension "95 per cent" done

    Robert Lewandowski talks over a contract extension at Bayern Munich are "95 per cent" done.

    Poland striker Lewandowski played a starring role as Bayern rolled Schalke aside with minimal fuss in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday, scoring a hat-trick in the 3-0 win.

    There was further reason for fan celebrations after the match as Lewandowski – who is contracted until 2021 – confirmed he is close to securing a reported two-year extension.

    When it was put to him the deal was 99 per cent concluded, Lewandowski told Sky: "Not yet, maybe 95 per cent."

    Lewandowski hit 22 goals last term to finish as the Bundesliga's top scorer and he is confident he will have another stellar campaign in 2019-20.

    "I can always play better and I have the potential improve each season," he added. "I can do something special on my own every season, but I try to help the team. No matter who I play against, I always try to score goals."

    His coach Niko Kovac was similarly upbeat about Lewandowski, saluting the 31-year-old's impact on German football.

    "[His performance was] sensationally good, that's what he's there for," the Croatian said. "That's what he can do.

    "He has already proved in the last five, six, seven years – I don't know how long he has been in Germany – that he's the best striker in the Bundesliga.

    "Not only in the last game, but also today. His efficiency and accuracy are unique. We are glad that we have him and I hope that he will continue like this in the next weeks and months."

  • Zidane pleads for fans' support despite extra pressure at Real Madrid Zidane pleads for fans' support despite extra pressure at Real Madrid

    Zinedine Zidane urged Real Madrid fans to stay on side as he recognises the team are under more pressure this term because of last season's troubles.

    Madrid played their first home match of the 2019-20 campaign on Saturday but were held to a shock 1-1 draw by Real Valladolid.

    Karim Benzema scored what Madrid thought to be the winner in the 82nd minute, but Sergi Guardiola struck his second goal of the season even later to salvage a commendable point for the visitors.

    Little has gone the way of Madrid – or Zidane – in recent months, with their close season marred by the ugly Gareth Bale transfer saga, poor friendly performances and uncertainty around some of the new signings.

    Having finished last season 19 points adrift of Barcelona, Zidane knows the pressure has increased again this season and he is pleading for fans to lend their backing.

    When asked if the team is under more scrutiny because of last term, Zidane said: "I noticed it at the Bernabeu - the crowd [feels the pressure] too.

    "The fans also have to help us. There's no choice. I know it is difficult, but I'm asking because they have also taken advantage of our successes. We will try everything on our part."

    Madrid are next in league action on September 1, when they travel to Villarreal.

  • Manchester City star Sterling deserves all plaudits for improvement – Guardiola Manchester City star Sterling deserves all plaudits for improvement – Guardiola

    Pep Guardiola appreciates Raheem Sterling's willingness to listen but insists the Manchester City star's development into a world-class player is entirely of his own making.

    England international Sterling has blossomed into one of the Premier League's most dangerous attackers under Guardiola's stewardship.

    The former Liverpool winger scored 18 and 17 goals in successive title-winning campaigns and boasts four in two appearances this term, including a hat-trick against West Ham on the opening weekend.

    Guardiola believes it will be tough for Sterling to beat out-and-out strikers to the Golden Boot but praised his appetite for improvement.

    "I think he's a better player, like I said last season. It's all [to] his credit, his desire to be better," Guardiola said.

    "I think every player is good when they understand what we want to do as a group... he's a guy who is incredibly receptive when we have our talks, when Mikel [Arteta, City first-team coach] speaks with him or myself.

    "It's nice, when they don't get that feeling like 'oh, always pushing me or criticising me'.

    "He's open. From day one since we arrived. That's why he's becoming an incredible, exceptional player.

    "After that his physicality [is excellent], he plays every three days and no injuries. He runs a lot and his genetics are so strong. It's good."

    Sterling's injury free run could not contrast more sharply with the difficulties faced by Benjamin Mendy.

    The France left-back has suffered two serious knee injuries since joining the club in 2017 but is now back in training and, according to Guardiola, can still realise his potential.

    "Yes, if he's fit he'll have success," the City boss said.

    "He has a special quality. Right now I'm happy. I don't want to say any big words, but I'm satisfied because for two weeks, the day after training sessions, he feels good.

    "He doesn't feel pain and that's good.

    "I think he's training well. The people from Barcelona [where Mendy underwent surgery in November] told me he's working incredibly, like an animal. Hopefully he can maintain that because it's not one day, it's not one week. It's every day doing that."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.