Santiago Solari expressed pride in Vinicius Junior’s ability to “break down the door” and win Real Madrid fans over, ahead of their pre-season friendly with his Club America side.
After coming through the club’s reserves, Solari was faced with the unenviable task of becoming Real Madrid’s first-team coach the year after the World Cup when Julen Lopetegui was sacked in October 2018.
The 45-year-old lasted less than five months, but Zinedine Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti are likely to continue to take advantage of his integration of players such as Vinicius and Federico Valverde, relegating Isco and Marcelo to the periphery. Vinicius was a particularly inconsistent case early on before enjoying a breakout season last term, culminating in his goal in May’s Champions League final.
However, the current Club America boss was at pains to praise the players themselves, as well as the structure and development environment Real Madrid provide for emerging talent.
“There is a point of pride for players where you think if you had 0.5 or one percent of the merit,” Solari told Marca. “But the big credit, like with Valverde, [Sergio] Reguilon, Llorente, goes to the club, its recruitment departments, the background it gives to the players.
“Another big credit is from footballers. If what Vinicius has achieved, the way he breaks down doors and wins people’s hearts, he’s a bit mine, he’s amazing, very beautiful.
“The goal of a coach should not be to try to be right, but to work and do the best for the institution at the particular moment when it is his turn. Real Madrid will always go their way. We have 14 Champions Leagues.” and we’re always on our way to the next one.”
Before the game, Solari also reserved his praise for Ancelotti, describing him as a man of “great” wisdom.
“With Ancelotti, I would just listen,” he said. “I don’t know him very well, I greeted him once, probably when I was with the youth team and he was with the first team.
“I have much personal sympathy with him, and he is a man of great wisdom. I should like to listen to him.”