Home SPORTS The player who has been the biggest surprise of the season

The player who has been the biggest surprise of the season

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Real Madrid resumed with a brilliant offensive display against Granada in the weekend with a massive 4-1 win at Los Carmenes. As such, the time is perfect for me to pen down this argument. Real’s new protagonist, Vinicius Junior was having an off-day in office in the first 45 at Granada. However, when the second half resumed, a totally different player walked out of the tunnel and it seemed like no one in the Granada defense could handle him.

Vinicius Junior, in my opinion, has been the biggest surprise of the season. As my colleague Hridyam argues, he has been the most improved player in all of Europe. There is no second thought to that. Judging by how his game was last season, no one could have predicted Vini to be this good at the onset of the new season.

He has been Real’s main attacking threat and with every other game that Real plays, the collection of teams who find it difficult to deal with him grows. He has been that player for Real Madrid that drives the opposition support crazy and the one that the defense doesn’t want to deal with.

Last season, Vini’s main problem was with his finishing. He was still creating chances with his dribbling and pace. But, it all went in vain when he’d blow the finish. His wastefulness was driving fans crazy and every time that Vini appeared on the team sheet, fans would start sweating out. And it’s safe to say that the tables have turned for good.

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Vinicius Junior’s improvement hasn’t been only about the numbers

Firstly, his finishing has evidently improved. Vini is outscoring his xG by nearly four goals in LaLiga, per FBref. And, that is all thanks to his finishing improvements. Outside the goals, Vini’s game inside the penalty area has seen a massive improvement. Well, that always was a part of his play but this season, it has been of another pristine quality, the type that would put Vini in the list of the best attackers of the season in world football.

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He has 10.83 progressive carries per 90 that put him in the 98th percentile and 7.79 touches in the attacking penalty area which accounts for the 96th percentile. He is also receiving plenty of progressive passes suggesting that his teammates are totally aboard the Vini Express. There just isn’t a better option than Vini to pass to, they can be sure of the Brazilian to twist and turn, beat defenders and, play smart exchanges inside the area to create a chance. The numbers put him at the 92nd percentile with 8.85 progressive passes received per 90. And, the last statistic over a 90 percentile is his completed dribbles at 93 percentile with 3.33 per 90. Vinicius Junior has been prolific so far in the season!

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The best part of this surprise package is that it’s not all about the on-field game. The 21-year-old has looked like a mature figure who is up for a big future in football. His post-match press quotes are so encouraging about his personality development. He keeps the club first and is all praises for his teammates. He always gives credit where it is due and seems so grateful to the apprenticeship he is enjoying under footballing greats like Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, and Luka Modric. He has improved both as a player and a human being.

And lastly, the aspect of his play that to me is the biggest surprise is how he has handled the responsibility at Real Madrid. He scores, he assists and he creates problems for the opposition every time he plays. It is not easy, especially at a big club like Real Madrid where so much is demanded of the players. He has it all to be a top player at the world’s most competitive football club. If anyone would have asked me last season, I would probably have favored a loan deal to another Champions League club for Vini. But now, things are totally different.

He has become a figure that fans can rely on. He does his talking on the pitch, he performs under hostile conditions with opposition fans cursing him and the defense gearing all up against him. He has become that character in the squad for whom the opposition would have a separate game plan. He has already won over his teammates and that is evident in the trust they have shown in Vinicius. He also is the player fans are most excited about as soon as they spot their electric asset on the team sheet. There isn’t any doubt that Vinicius Junior has been the biggest surprise of the season for Real Madrid and its fans.

 

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