Vinicius Junior made his first Champions League appearance of the season on Wednesday night, scoring Los Blancos’ second goal in their 3-1 victory away at Club Brugge.
The 19-year-old has often been criticized for spurning chances in front of goal, but he made a curious comparison in his post-match interview when discussing his lack of goals.
I don’t play to score,” Vinicius said. “I play to help the team.
“Raheem Sterling at Manchester City also had trouble scoring goals.
“I left Brazil very early and I’m working hard to do great things.”
Sterling used to receive the same criticisms as the Brazilian, however, under Pep Guardiola he has worked on his finishing and positioning, which has seen him score bundles of goals over the last two seasons.
But Vinicius is right. At the age of 18, when the forward arrived at the stadium Santiago Bernabeu, Sterling had just completed his first season in Liverpool’s first team.
That season, the Reds finished seventh in the Premier League and fell at the round of 32 stages in the Europa League, with Sterling recording two goals and six assists in 36 games.
When compared to Vinicius’ first campaign in the Spanish capital, he scored three goals – one more than Sterling – and provided 12 assists in 29 matches, double the amount the Englishman managed in seven fewer appearances.
Sterling came into his own in the 2013/14 season, accompanying Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez in a Liverpool side that were so close to winning the Premier League, only for Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip to cost them the title.
It was during that campaign that the current City star netted 11 goals and assisted a further 12, although at this stage of the season he only had two goals and three assists, numbers that are similar to Vinicius in 2019/20, who currently has two goals and one assist.
In his final year at Liverpool, Sterling’s statistics read 10 goals and 11 assists, while his first season at City saw him hit similar numbers, with one more goal and one more assist.
Then, in 2016/17, he once again netted 10 goals, the final season before his goalscoring figures exploded under Guardiola.
After a disappointing debut campaign for Pep in Manchester, Sterling began to shine in his second season under the Catalan and showed that by contributing 40 goals, with 23 himself and 17 assists.
Last season, he hit 25 goals for the first time and recorded a record figure in terms of assists with 18. And he has carried that into the 2019/20 campaign, having scored 15 goals in 22 games to this point.
Comparing his numbers at the same age as Vinicius, since the Brazilian’s arrival at Real Madrid, there is a tie in terms of goals with five apiece, while Vinicius has recorded more assists, with 13 compared to eight.
It remains to be seen whether Vinicius can equal on Sterling’s record of 11 goals and 12 assists at 19 years of age, and whether his progress will match that of the English superstar.
Now, all Vinicius can do is continue to improve – something he acknowledged on Wednesday night – and look to help Real Madrid with goals and assists.