RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr. was called into the Brazil squad for the first time on Thursday and will travel for March friendlies against Panama and the Czech Republic, coach Tite said.
Real paid Flamengo a reported fee of 46 million euros (£39 million) for the 16-year old in 2017, even though he had made just two substitute appearances for the Rio club, and he moved to the Spanish capital last year.
“He’s at a very demanding club,” Tite told reporters of the 18-year-old Vinicius. “I want to give him that growth, affirmation and evolution.
“Him participating, being in the dressing-room, feeling the weight of the yellow jersey, is important.”
Captain Neymar is missing from the squad due to a foot injury that has kept him out the Paris St Germain side since January.
Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho and Real Madrid full back Marcelo were also left out.
Among players recalled were Porto defender Eder Militao, AC Milan’s young attacking midfielder Lucas Paqueta and Daniel Alves of Paris St Germain.
Brazil play Panama in the Portuguese city of Porto on March 23 and face the Czech Republic in Prague three days later.
The five-times world champions have won all six of their games since being knocked out the World Cup at the quarter-final stage in Russia last July.
Their next competitive matches will come in the Copa America, which kicks off in Sao Paulo in June.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing by Ed Osmond)