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Vinicius starts to fulfil his prophecy at Real Madrid

After several years of promise, Vinicius has taken a real leap this season and is playing like a bona fide star for Real Madrid, taking LaLiga Santander by storm and living up to the hype that surrounded him from even before his big money arrival in Spain.

In May 2017, Real Madrid announced that they had secured a deal to sign 16-year-old forward Vinicius from Flamengo, which they'd do when he turned 18 the following year for a fee in the region of 45 million euros. That was a record fee for an Under-19 player and made him the second most expensive Brazilian in history after Neymar.

If expectations weren't already high, given the fee and his age, then they were given another nudge upwards when some members of the player's family soon told MARCA that the money Real Madrid paid would prove a bargain.

Vinicius' aunt and uncle, Tatiana and Ulysses, with whom the player lived while playing for Flamengo, spoke to MARCA in 2017 shortly after the future transfer to Real Madrid was announced. They were surprised that the move had come so soon, but were confident that their nephew would make the most of the opportunity.

"From four or five years old he said he'd be a professional," Ulysses told MARCA in 2017.

"His signing is a responsibility, but the bigger risk is on the part of the club.

"We recognise the faith Real Madrid are placing him. It's crazy and unheard of, but if they didn't do it, others would have.

"In a few years' time, they'll think, 'we got a bargain'."

The third most valuable player in the world

Vinicius' uncle's confidence was well-placed, given his development and particularly his performances in recent months. The Brazilian ends 2021 as the third-most valuable player in the world according to Transfermarkt, who rate him at 100m euros, behind only Erling Haaland (150m euros) and Kylian Mbappe (160m euros), who Real Madrid hope will join him in their attack.

This season, Vinicius has established himself as a key player for Carlo Ancelotti, bagging 12 goals and nine assists. Only Karim Benzema has more goals for Los Blancos and no one has more assists.

The new year will likely bring a new contract for the 21-year-old, although his present deal expires in 2024, so there is no rush and no talks have been opened.

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