Academy coach reveals how Man Utd missed out on Brazil ‘gem’ that ‘everyone wanted’

Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo

Former Flamengo academy coach Carlos Noval has spoken about Manchester United’s pursuit of Vinicius Junior, while the Brazilian winger was still a teenager.

Vinicius came through the ranks at Flamengo before gaining promotion to their senior team in May 2017. He had made just one first-team appearance when Real Madrid came in for his signature.

They paid Flamengo £40million, despite Vinicius only being 16 years old.

The star, who mainly operates on the left flank, spent the next year back on loan in Brazil before moving to Spain in 2018.

The transfer made Vinicius the second most expensive export from the Brazilian Serie A, behind Neymar.

He took time to adapt to La Liga, as would be expected for such a young player, but is now enjoying a top campaign with Los Blancos.

The 12-cap international has registered 18 goals and 18 assists in all competitions this season. Alongside the terrific Karim Benzema, he is helping Real to fight for the La Liga title and Champions League trophy.

Vinicius Junior shining on the biggest stage

Vinicius scored a fantastic goal against Manchester City in the UCL semi-final first leg. He went past Fernandinho with a brilliant dummy and dribbled with the ball using his electric pace before finishing past Ederson.

During an interview with ESPN Brazil, Noval revealed how Manchester United held an early interest in Vinicius. However, they were eventually beaten to his services by Real.

“A foreign scout from Manchester United said: ‘Noval, look at the player you have, he’s a gem! I’ve never seen a 14-year-old player do what he does’, Noval revealed.

Luis Diaz backed to replace Vinicius Junior at Real Madrid

Tino Asprilla thinks Liverpool star Luis Diaz has the ability to replace Vinicius Junior at Real Madrid.

“That reinforced everything we already had in mind. He was a gem to be polished. Everyone wanted Vinicius.”

The former coach continued: “Corinthians didn’t get to talk to us because they didn’t have the slightest chance of him leaving. Barcelona, in particular, monitored this boy since he was 13 years old.

“Real Madrid and most of the big European clubs too. We had more contact, they came to talk to us, but Vini could only leave the country at the age of 18.

“European clubs are very keen to know what the athlete’s family, representatives and off-field is like.”

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