Vinicius, the moment of the new seven: this is how he chose a legendary number for his year as an icon for Madrid

When Eden Hazard’s departure was confirmed, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio, Vinicius weighed the options that were available to him to change his number and leave 20 behind. His preference was 10, but Luka Modric never seems to expire, and in Brazil it is the shirt of Neymar, one of his best friends, whose expiration date does not seem to be soon either. According to his people, he did not see any benefit in wearing 9 and does not like 11. There are 7 remaining, with all the symbolic weight that they carry in the history of Real Madrid: Juanito, Raul, Cristiano Ronaldo. And the final firecrackers from Mariano and Hazard.

All this is known to the Brazilian, who has spent a lot of time studying the club’s legends. When he reached 100 caps for the Whites, he wrote a letter to the fans in which he conveyed a phrase from Juanito: “I am a madridista to the core”. He understands the weight of the Seven, but according to what they say in his circle, he feels his time has come in Madrid, which begins at dawn on Monday (4:00, Movistar+) against AC Milan at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. And without Karim Benzema.

The recent absence of the Ballon d’Or leaves Vinicius as the team’s most attacking player, and also as the player with the most media influence. Before finally deciding to ask for the number 7, the Brazilian crossed the networks with numerous messages from Real Madrid players who put him in that shirt. Consider it the final installment. In Brazil he will also wear number 7, worn by Garrincha and Jairzinho. Recently, this was the shirt of his friend Paquita, who would give it to him.

In the last months of last season, signs were already being seen that a new leader would be formed. And not just because of his explosive contribution to the offense in the past two sessions. The hardest night of the year yet Lost 4-0 against Manchester City at the EtihadHe was one of the few footballers in Madrid who stopped to give explanations to reporters. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric also spoke, but there was no trace of Benzema captaining. Vinicius chose to reveal himself after the shock, in keeping with the drive he showed on the field, when he asked the team to leave several times, and went to discuss his concerns with Ancelotti.

On vacation also showed withdrawal. On July 12, he turns 23 and organizes a party in his new home in Rio de Janeiro, to which he invites many of his colleagues in Madrid. For several days, Camavinga, Rodrygo and Militao trained with him in his home under the guidance of his personal coach, Thiago Lobo. With the Frenchman, who arrived five days before the party, he had time to visit the city and meet family and friends.

After a few days in the States, his time in Brazil helped him slow down after a high-voltage course. So he had an important conversation with his team about how he will handle his fight against racism next season. If you feel comfortable under the lights where they are placed in particular After the match in Mestalla who paused to point out to the spectator, who called him “Monkey”.

Vinicius did not hesitate. He told them he was clear he wanted to continue to promote the fight against racism, despite the costs he understood that putting himself at the center would entail. He insisted on an idea he has already shared with his people on various occasions in recent months: He wants to be the person who helps make change happen The organization of the fight against racism, as well as the attitude of the football world towards this type of attack.

Vinicius’s personality reached a point of maturity in Madrid and as a social icon has not found a consistent response in the sports brand with which he is associated. Brazilian dissatisfaction with Nike He’s been infamous for months, when he tried to break out of a contract he believed didn’t keep up with his growth. The court in the Netherlands prevented the rupture. He had signed on the day he turned 18, at the party of celebration, which was attended by an employee of the brand to take the initials. He’s committed to prison for 10 years, until 2028, and now he’s stuck in a vulnerable position. Nike, aware of his takeoffs on and off the field – and also his dissatisfaction – promised to meet with him this summer to find ways to improve the deal. But the holiday was over and they never quoted him.

And so Vinicius begins a crucial season with Real Madrid, the first without his mentor, Benzema. The new 7 moment.

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