News
NXGN

Vinicius Tobias: Real Madrid's new teenage signing could be Brazil's answer to Alexander-Arnold

12:00 WAT 26/04/2022
Vinicius Tobias NXGN GFX
The 18-year-old could cost Los Blancos up to €17m having joined on an initial loan from Shakhtar Donetsk in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Dani Alves, Cafu, Carlos Alberto - when it comes to producing top-quality right-backs, few do it better than Brazil.

The well, however, has run dry in recent years, so much so that despite being less than a month away from his 39th birthday, Alves is expected to be the Selecao's starter in the position for the 2022 World Cup.

Quite who steps into the Barcelona star's shoes when he eventually hangs up his boots is anyone's guess right now, but there is hope that in a few years, the next top Brazilian right-back will be ready to pull on that famous yellow shirt.

The player in question is Vinicius Tobias, who has been raising eyebrows for a number of years in his homeland, having come through the ranks at Internacional.

The 18-year-old, who on April 1 completed a move to Real Madrid, appeared on the radars of Brazilian fans after helping the country's Under-15s win the South American Championship in 2019, with Vinicius scoring in the final victory over Argentina.

He has since been likened to Trent Alexander-Arnold, in part because, like the Liverpool star, he started life as a central midfielder who has since been moved to the flank, but has been able to retain his playmaking abilities.

Madrid are in desperate need of such a player within their first team, with Dani Carvajal having been exposed at times this season, particularly in the Champions League, while versatile duo Nacho and Lucas Vazquez are not natural right-backs despite having both filled in when Carvajal has been absent.

There are high hopes at Madrid for 16-year-old Alejandro Jimenez, who is already a regular in the Blancos' U19s side, but with Bayern Munich sniffing around the Spain youth international, Vinicius has a real chance to nail down a starting role at Santiago Bernabeu for years to come.

His road to the Spanish capital has, however, not been an easy one.

Check out football's best wonderkids with NXGN:

At the age of just 12, Vinicius was forced to leave his mother's home in Sao Paulo and move over 1,100 kilometres (685 miles) south along Brazil's eastern coast to Porto Alegre, where he had been enrolled into Internacional's academy.

He caught the eye of the club's scouts with his ability to take on opponents and drive into the penalty area from central midfield, as well as his vision of the game and tendency to always find team-mates with his passes.

"I was signed as a forward, but by 2017, I was playing as a midfielder," Vinicius told GloboEsporte when relaying the tale of his transition to right-back.

"Our full-back, Gustavo Bagatini, was injured and we didn't have another one. I asked the coach, Lucas Marchetti, for the chance to play there. It wasn't very difficult, but I still had a lot to learn."

Vinicius learned quickly, and he has never looked back, crowning his time at Internacional by helping the club win the Brazilian U20 Championship in 2021.

“He is the typical Brazilian player, an athlete with technical abilities of a very high level," Joao Miguel, who coached Vinicius to that title, tells GOAL.

"The relationship between the ball and and him is great, while the ability he has to solve the problems of the game is also very high, as well as his understanding of the tactical issues of the game.

“His physical attributes are very good, too, and he has good mental strength. He is a player who likes a duel and who enjoys the challenges of the game.

"So it is with huge happiness that he is already making his way abroad, where he will shine thanks to all of these skills."

Those skills led to interest from a number of top European clubs in Vinicius, with Real Madrid joined by Bayern Munich, Juventus and Atletico Madrid in monitoring the progress of the teenager.

However, the race to sign Vinicius was won by Shakhtar Donetsk, who announced in July 2021 that they had agreed a €6 million (£5m/$7m) deal to bring the defender to Ukraine, with Vinicius set to arrive six months later.

He left Internacional without ever having played a first-team match for his boyhood club, but he was instantly integrated into the Shakhtar senior squad, with whom he spent their mid-season training camp in Turkey, appearing in six friendlies.

Those games look likely to be his only appearances for the club, however, with Vinicius one of a group of Brazilian players based in Ukraine who took to social media upon Russia's invasion of the country in a bid to find safe passage out of their adopted home.

After a number of days, the youngster joined his compatriots in crossing the border out of Ukraine, before it was announced by FIFA that players from Ukrainian clubs would be allowed to move outside of the transfer window so as to further their careers.

Aware of him from their previous interest, Madrid moved quickly to secure Vinicius' signature, signing him on an initial loan through to the end of the 2022-23 season, with the option to make the deal permanent for €17m (£14m/$18m) included.

Though he has been through a lot since his arrival in Europe, Vinicius has settled well in Spain, and recently debuted for Real Madrid Castilla in the third tier of Spanish football.

He has also trained with the first-team squad, though he is ineligible to play for them this season due to there already being three non-European Union players - Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Eder Militao - who play regularly in Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Vinicius' time to step onto the Liga stage will come, however, even if he has to wait for his chance. It is something he is getting used to doing, but there is a belief that once he arrives into top-level football, he is unlikely to depart anytime soon.

Brazil's long history of producing the world's top right-backs looks likely to continue.

Additional reporting by Jorge Castro Picon.

For more on the world's best young ballers, follow NXGN on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.