MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid’s Brazilian teenager Vinicius Jr. is not about to leave the club on loan or permanently despite struggling to get game time, coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday, urging the player to wait his turn to get back into the side.
Vinicius, 19, had an explosive first season at Real after bursting into the team under Zidane’s predecessor Santiago Solari but has fallen out of favour this campaign due to the arrival of Eden Hazard and his teenage compatriot Rodrygo Goes.
He has made four league starts and four substitute appearances despite being injury free and has been excluded from the matchday squad for four of Real’s last six games, including Tuesday’s Champions League match against Paris St Germain.
“Vinicius is not going to leave, we have 26 players and it’s true he hasn’t played much but he will get his chance. Now is not his moment, but it could arrive soon,” Zidane told a news conference ahead of Real’s La Liga trip to Alaves on Saturday.
“What has changed is that Hazard and Rodrygo are in the team, he is still training hard and last year he did well but the problem is there are other players and I have to make a choice. But he has to be ready for when the moment arrives.”
Vinicius could have the chance to feature against Alaves as Real’s joint-record signing Hazard is unavailable after hurting his ankle in Tuesday’s pulsating 2-2 draw with PSG.
Zidane said the Belgian’s injury was not serious but could not guarantee whether he would be fit to face Barcelona on Dec. 18.
Real, who are second in La Liga but level on points with leaders Barca, are on a resurgent run of four wins from their last six games in all competitions and could go three points clear at the top for more than 24 hours if they beat Alaves.
They have a good chance of remaining there, as Barca face a gruelling trip to fellow title rivals Atletico Madrid.
Zidane added: “We’ll see what happens (in Barca’s match) but the most important thing is we keep growing and that we demonstrate that what we’re doing at the moment is not a fluke.”
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)