Flamengo must be patient with Vinicius Junior 'mistakes' - Diego
Flamengo's Vinicius Junior has been "making mistakes," according to his teammate Diego Ribas, amid the attention brought by his future big-money move to Real Madrid.
Vinicius agreed to join Madrid last summer before he had even made his senior professional debut, with the €45 million transfer effective in July 2018, when he turns 18.
Recent weeks have seen the teenager make headlines for the wrong reasons, including criticism from former Brazil midfielder-turned-TV pundit Juninho Pernambucano for enraging opposition fans with an over-the-top goal celebration, and a red card for a wild tackle just 10 minutes after entering as a substitute in last weekend's local derby against Botafogo.
Former Atletico Madrid and Wolfsburg playmaker Diego, quoted in AS, said his young teammate was a "great kid" who just needed a bit of help to deal with the pressure which came with his status as a future Madrid star.
"Vinicius is a great kid, with good character, but he is going through a delicate moment," Diego said. "We must understand the mistakes he makes. His style of play, more daring and joyful, brings attention. We are trying to help him, naturally. He has not asked for all this attention, but being signed by Real Madrid, with these figures, means things are expected of him which sometimes he cannot do."
Vinicius scored three goals in 25 appearances for Flamengo in the 2017 Brazilian Serie A championship, with 21 appearances as a substitute as the youngster was eased into the senior set-up.
His maturity and progress were hailed by his coach, Reinaldo Rueda, last December after he had entered from the bench on the final day of the season to inspire a comeback victory that secured the club a place in the 2018 Copa Libertadores.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan