Vinicius Junior has said that Barcelona “offered more money for him,” but chose to join Real Madrid because young players get more of an opportunity at the Bernabeu.
Madrid agreed a €45 million deal to sign Vinicius from Flamengo in May 2017, with the transfer made effective last July when he turned 18.
It was reported at the time that Barca had also been working on a deal for the forward, with the contest between the two La Liga giants mirroring the complex battle for Neymar‘s signature four years previously.
“I heard about interest from clubs after playing in the South American under-17 championships [in March 2017],” Vinicius told Cadena SER. “My father told me it was not true.
“I only heard for sure when the offers came and I had to choose: Barca’s came first, then Madrid’s. And we chose the best. I believe Barca offered more money, but we chose the best project, at Madrid.
“Marcelo spoke with me. Casemiro too. They helped me a lot. Marcelo came here aged 18 and he played, [Marco] Asensio was playing too. That helped us to choose Madrid. My family and I wanted to play for Madrid, live in Madrid. It was like that from the start.”
Vinicius was also full of praise for 17-year-old Brazilian Rodrygo, who is joining Madrid this summer in a deal worth €54m.
“Rodrygo is going to be a great, like Neymar or [Kylian] Mbappe,” he said. “He has everything you need, huge quality, takes people on.
“He makes it all look easy. He will be here soon and will help us all.”
After arriving in the summer, Vinicius initially spent most of his time in the club’s Castilla youth team in Spain’s third tier. His chances as a first team regular arrived when Julen Lopetegui was replaced by Santiago Solari in October.
But, Solari has since been sacked, with Zinedine Zidane returning — and Vinicius said he is looking forward to working under the former France international.
“Zidane was a great player and now is a very good coach,” he said. “To train with him is an honour.
“I did not see much of him [at the time], but have watched videos and he was incredible. Casemiro told me that when he speaks with him, he gets a bit nervous. It is different [to speaking with Lopetegui]. He is a legend, a bit special.”
Meanwhile, Vinicius has said he is targeting a Ballon d’Or award within the next eight years.
“Yes, I am working towards that,” he said of the honour. “I don’t know when. I would like it to happen at 25, or 26, at the peak of my powers.”