Casemiro has backed Real Madrid team-mate Vinicius Junior to target the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s World XI following massive strides in his development.
The Brazilian teenager burst onto the scene last season after Santiago Solari made him a regular in the Los Blancos starting line-up. Despite not being able to score many goals, the 19-year-old showed promise on the pitch with his incredible dribbling abilities and off-the-ball movement.
Vinicius made his senior national team debut in Brazil’s 1-0 defeat to Peru on Tuesday and endured an average performance. But Casemiro believes that the winger’s abilities are not normal and he must target the big prizes now.
“Vinicius has a very good head and, in the past year, he has surprised many people with the football he played,” the midfielder told reporters, according to Goal.
“It is not normal for a 19-year-old boy to do what he did with the Real Madrid shirt. I told him the other day that this year is a year that he has to start thinking big.
“I repeat: what he did last year was not normal. He surprised everyone and showed that he is ready to be a starter at Real Madrid.
“When you are a starting Real Madrid player, you have to think big. Think of the Ballon d’Or, FIFA’s World XI. He is a great player and he has already proven it.
“Of course, he is very young, you cannot put too much pressure and weight on his back. But I think he has to start thinking big.
“It is very important for us that he is here with the national team, but we have to be calm; two years ago he was playing in the Flamengo youth team.”
According to a common narrative, Gareth Bale is more interested in playing golf than playing football – but his captain has no issues with what he does outside of club time.
Bale had everything but his ponytail out of the exit door over the summer before a proposed move to China collapsed and he stayed at Real Madrid.
The 30-year-old has since managed to work his way into Zinedine Zidane’s good books and has arguably been Real’s best player so far this season, scoring twice in their last fixture – a 2-2 draw against Villarreal.
Bale has been pictured numerous times playing golf outside of his day job – he plays off a handicap of five and has a three-hole course for a garden back in Wales – but his skipper Sergio Ramos has no problem with his commitment.
“I think Bale’s a great player and he’s been really important for the club in the years he’s been with us. You find many things in the press. Some are true, some are not. We live in this world and we have to try to be above all that,” Ramos told the Daily Mail while promoting his new personal documentary.
“Regarding what has been said about Gareth, I think time puts everything in place. Regardless of what each player does in his personal life, I think it should be respected and not even talked about. We’re free to do what we want with our free time.”
Ⓒ @SergioRamos— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) September 8, 2019
🙌14 years at @RealMadrid... and 20 titles
💫 4x Champions League
🌐 4x Club World Cup
⭐ 3x UEFA Super Cup
🏆 4x LaLiga
👑 2x Copa del Rey
🇪🇸 3x Spanish Super Cup#HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/SUlWlmvLH9
Bale’s good form has not coincided with a return to prominence for Real, who have kicked off their season with just one win from three games.
Zidane has yet to recapture the magic that saw him lead the club to three consecutive Champions League titles in his first stint as manager, but Ramos claims the France legend has returned an even better coach.
“He remains the same person. He keeps his essence as a manager. He has more experience, explained Ramos. “I would sum up in essence he is the same person, but better because he has more experience.’
Sergio Ramos showcased some stunning backheel volley flicks, while his Spain team-mates Thiago Alcantara, Mario Hermoso, Dani Ceballos and Rodri also stylishly kept the ball in the air during training on Wednesday.
Spain beat Romania 2-1 in Bucharest on Thursday when Euro 2020 qualifying resumed and now face the Faroe Islands in Gijon on Sunday.
‘La Roja’ have won all five of their Group F qualifying matches so far, in a group which also contains Sweden, Norway and Malta.
Watch Ramos and friends show off their skills above: