Real’s Vinicius aiming for Mbappe, Haaland level

Clubs

Vinicius Junior believes he is in the right setting to become one of the elite players of his generation, like Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.

The Real Madrid forward has not only forced his way into the club’s starting XI but taken full advantage by having his best season since joining the Spanish giants from Flamengo in 2018.

The Brazilian now believes he has chance to join Paris Saint-Germain‘s Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund‘s Haaland as one of the best players of his time.

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“To be at the level of Haaland or Mbappe is complicated because they are great players and they’re always scoring a lot of goals and giving assists and playing some of the best football and I want to be there too,” Vinicius told ESPN. “So to get to that level, I still have to work hard but to play with Madrid, it’s always like that.

“You have to be calm, you must be patient, to do things well and in the right way. But if I continue like this, and all is well with the team, then of course, I will be among the best.”

In his first three seasons, Vinicius mustered just 15 goals in 118 appearances for Los Blancos.

Vinicius, 21, has scored 12 goals and set up five more in 22 appearances this season in all competitions for a Madrid side that leads the LaLiga standings and finished top of their Champions League Group D with five wins out of six games.

“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” the Brazil international said of his sizzling form. “Concentration, hard work, a team that’s helping me by giving a lot of balls to the players up front.

“So, we must continue this way, to do big things this season and I want to keep helping this team so that I can always be at the top level, and to be considered as one of the best.”

While the competition for playing time is fierce at Madrid, it is also a huge benefit to have top-class players as teammates.

Vinicius said: “Yeah, to play with [Toni] Kroos, [Luka] Modric, Casemiro and Karim [Benzema], players that have won it all and want to keep winning. They pass their experience onto me, and it helps me to stay calm and do the things I am doing now with more tranquillity, that is to help the team and win things this season.

“The unity of this team, and [coach Carlo] Ancelotti too and his staff have made things clear for us, that we have to work smart so the team can do well, and I feel like with every step we take, we are getting better and better.”

Vinicius admitted it’s a challenge to keep his emotions in check because he is one of the players that receives the most fouls in LaLiga.

“It’s always a little complicated,” he said. “I always try to react in the best way I can but sometimes I don’t. But it’s normal, it’s my style of play and it’s a way they try to throw me off my game.

“But I always stay focused on my teammates around me, and they always ask me to just stay calm and keep doing what I’m doing.” Real Madrid will be hoping Vinicius can continue his strong performance on Sunday when they host defending LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium (watch live on ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET)..

“To play in a derby is always something special,” he said. “and it will be a massive game for all the fans and for us since we are currently enjoying a good unbeaten run of back-to-back wins and we want to continue like this for many more games. Of course, it’s going to be a very difficult game, but we are very focused on doing well.”

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