Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari has hailed the progress made by Vinicius Junior and insists his team mates deserve credit for his development.
The Brazilian forward, just 18 years old, has scored two goals in 12 LaLiga appearances this season and his performances in all competitions have helped to justify the club’s reported £45million outlay for him last year.
Vinicius played 81 minutes of Madrid’s 2-1 first-leg win at Ajax in the Champions League this week and Solari was full of praise for the way he has established himself at Santiago Bernabeu.
“He’s a very young lad, with a really bright future ahead of him,” Solari told the club’s official website.
“We’re all really happy for him and with him. All of his teammates help him and both he and the rest of his teammates deserve real praise for the way in which they support him and enhance his game”.
Marco Asensio made his return from a thigh injury by coming off the bench to score Madrid’s winner at Ajax.
His comeback gives Solari a selection dilemma ahead of Sunday’s home LaLiga game against Girona, with Vinicius, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema leading the attack in Holland.
However, Asensio’s versatility means Solari might be able to find a place for him in the starting line up.
“Marco is able to operate across any of the attacking positions, and he knows that,” said Solari. “His characteristics and talent also mean that can play as an attacking central midfielder.
“He’s returned really strongly return since coming back from injury. He played a decisive role in our last game and scored what was an important goal in the context of the tie and for him personally.
“He’s a very talented player. We’re happy for him and for the form he’s showed since returning to the side”.
Madrid will be looking to narrow the gap on league leaders Barcelona to three points in Sunday’s early kick-off, ahead of the champions playing later in the day.
“We’re all in really good shape. We just love competing and this is an exciting stage of the season. We’re united and are fully focused on the target of winning,” said Solari.
“We know that Girona are a very dangerous side, with a really specific system, which they execute very well. We’ll need to be focused and alert throughout the whole 90 minutes. We look forward to tomorrow’s game to go out and compete and give our all”.
“(What Barcelona do) doesn’t depend on us. What we can control is when we take to the pitch tomorrow at 12:00 noon.”