Carlos Vinicius: The goal machine with a big move on the horizon
It’s hard work to find a goal scorer. Benfica managed it last summer though when they signed Carlos Vinicius for just £15m. The 25-year-old has taken an alternative route in his career but the big time awaits. Here we answer the question ‘Who is Carlos Vinicius?’
Battle hardened in Brazil
Vinicius started life as a centre back in his native Brazil before bouncing around a few different clubs without making much of an impression. He started out at Santos with subsequent moves to Palmeiras, Caldense and Gremio. It wasn’t working out for him. He was spending his time getting the odd appearance and being used to fill in as a round peg in a square hole. As well as playing at the heart of defence, he was also utilised in a holding role as well as being played in attacking midfield on a couple of occasions. During one of his irregular outings whilst with Gremio, he was utilised as a front man and bagged two goals. He has not looked back.
Emerging in Europe
You’d forgive a man in Vinicius’ position to consider alternative lines of work. Not Carlos Vinicius though. Instead, he accepted the challenge of a move to Europe. The Portuguese second tier is hardly the dream of a Brazilian growing up but it’s where Vinicius found himself with Real SC. His career in Portugal got off to a good start as he converted from the spot after just 13 minutes of his debut and two more goals before the end of the game saw him take the match ball home. Finally, Vinicius had found his position. He’s a striker.
The goals hardly stopped flowing after that. Vinicius was almost an ever present throughout the 2017/18 season, missing just 107 minutes of football – 90 of that due to suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards. He finished the campaign with an impressive return of 20 goals and five assists from 38 matches. True, it was only the second tier of Portuguese football but he’d shown enough and a £3.5m transfer to Napoli followed.
Within a month of arriving in Italy, Vinicius was loaned out. Back to Portugal he went; only this time he’d be plying his trade in the Primeira Liga for Rio Ave. If there were doubts about his ability to step up a division, they were quickly put to bed with four goals and an assist in his first three games. Rio Ave finished the season in seventh place and seven points off Europa League qualification, which is awarded to the side finishing fifth. Had Vinicius stayed with them for the entire season then things may well have worked out differently. Instead, Napoli sent him to Monaco in Ligue 1 for the second half of the campaign. The club were hardly having a good season but Vinicius still struggled for consistent game time. He managed just two goals in 16 appearances.
Bossing it at Benfica
Despite a poor return in France, Portuguese giants Benfica had seen enough during his five months with Rio Ave to splash £15m on his signature. It proved a shrewd move. The Eagles were well and truly in the title race before covid-19 hit pause on sports around the world and Vinicius was central to their success. He’s averaged a goal contribution every 97 minutes with 20 goals and 12 assists across all competitions – including the Champions and Europa League.
Carlos Vinicius’ Style of play
Given his nickname of ‘The Beast’ combined with the fact he stands at 6’3, you might make the assumption that Vinicius is a battering ram with an eye for goal. You would be wrong. The 25-year-old actually likes the ball on the deck where he can either receive the ball with his back to goal and look to link play or use his blistering pace, power and skilful feet to bamboozle defenders. When it comes to putting the ball in the net, he is composure personified and has the knack for being in the right place at the right time – a skill that should not be underestimated.
What the future holds
Benfica are no mugs; when signing him in the summer of 2019 they inserted a £87m release clause into his contract, which runs until 2024. It’s a hefty old fee for a man who has only scored goals in Portugal but he has all the makings of a top drawer attacker. Liverpool have been linked in the past but Manchester United are now rumoured to head the queue. Vinicius would fit the style that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is building towards too.
The question mark is whether Benfica would accept a bid below the release clause. Initially, you say why would they but the player would surely be begging for a move if United come calling. It could force their hand. Alternatively, if he stays put this summer and bangs in 20 plus goals again then how long can clubs ignore a man approaching his peak years.
One thing is guaranteed, any move for a big fee that sees him join one of Europe’s top five leagues will make his current price of £1.24 look a bargain.