'Real Madrid must allow Vinicius to fail' – Seedorf backs Brazilian star for the top

The ex-Blancos midfielder has urged the club not to pile too much pressure on the teenager, who has a great career at the highest level ahead of him

Clarence Seedorf has backed Vinicius Junior to reach the very top of the game at Real Madrid, after his impressive debut season in the senior team.

The 18-year-old starlet has racked up 26 appearances across all competitions for Madrid this season, while also contributing four goals and four assists. 

Despite his tender age, Vinicius has shown the confidence and technical ability to justify his selection, helping Santiago Solari’s side get their 2018-19 campaign back on track after an indifferent start.

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The Brazilian winger has been guilty of a lack of end product in the final third at times, however, most notably missing a hatful of chances in the Copa del Rey semi-final tie against Barcelona last week.

Vinicius received his fair share of criticism in the wake of the 3-0 home defeat, but Seedorf insists that the club’s prized asset must be nurtured carefully at this early stage of his career.

“Vinicius is doing a very good job,” Seedorf told Goal . “Playing those matches gains experience for him. It is clear that the boy has talent, but you have to be patient.

“You cannot leave the pressure and responsibility on young people in general. Young people must enter a safe and protected environment to be able to pass and fail, so little by little they can adapt.

“The most important thing is that the environment protects them. Real Madrid bet on Vinicius a long time ago. He has had the good fortune of being able to graduate from the Castilla side quickly because Cristiano [Ronaldo] left and the others may not be going through their best moment, so he is creating his own space.

“And he’s carrying it with a lot of personality, putting in a lot of work and helping the team. It’s normal that not everything will turn out well.

“But we have to applaud the fact that he is contributing a lot of personality on the field, assuming a role that should not be his right now, but he is doing it. On the other hand, you have to be prepared if he can not give continuity, which is normal for any young person. It happens to everyone.”

Seedorf played for Real Madrid between 1996 and 2000, winning two European Cups and a La Liga title.

The retired Dutch legend has seen many special players emerge during his distinguished career and he believes that Vinicius has the potential to achieve greatness, but he also warned that too much pressure could be detrimental to his progress.

Seedorf used Alexandre Pato as a point of reference, the former AC Milan and Brazil striker who was tipped to be one of his generation’s finest players, before ultimately failing to reach his potential.

“Only every 30 years there is one that is already a phenomenon from the first day and so on until the last day of his career: Ronaldo Nazario, [Lionel] Messi, Cristiano, [Diego] Maradona, Pele – we must keep calm,” Seedorf added.

“Look at Pato at Milan, who arrived at 18 years old, started to score goals under a lot of expectation, and now look at the career he has had.

“Sometimes it is not a criticism but, knowing football, it will be in five or six years when we can say that this guy is going to be a star or not.

“Having said that, I like Vinicius a lot from the matches I’ve seen him in recent weeks: how he faces the opponent, how he runs back to help. He’s going to have a great career if he keeps up this mentality of wanting to improve.” 

Real Madrid are back in Champions League action on Tuesday in the second leg of their last-16 tie with Ajax at Santiago Bernabeu, with the aggregate score currently at 2-1.

Vinicius will be expected to retain his spot in the starting line up, as the Blancos aim to bounce back from a La Liga defeat to Barcelona on Saturday.

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