One of the things that is likely to have caught Tottenham fans’ attention in Carlos Vinicius’ first interview with Spurs TV was the striker talking about how he switched from central defence to a striker.
The Athletic have now done a detailed investigative piece looking into the Brazilian’s style of play, as well as detailing that transition from centre-back to centre-forward.
The report reveals that Vinicius was playing in the backline up until five years ago for Caldense in the Brazilian fourth tier.
His coach back then, Marcos Valadares, was the man who is said to have changed Vinicius’ career by trying him out as a forward when he was 20 years of age.
Valdares told The Athletic: “He was a bit slow and did not, at that stage, have the competitive spirit you need to be a central defender. He was on the list of the players that were due to be released. In the weeks that followed, I got the squad playing a lot of small-sided games, reducing the size of the pitch.
“In that context, he often found himself closer to the opposition goal, with shooting opportunities. That is when he caught my attention. He was a good finisher and scored a lot of goals in those sessions.
“He was not a striker, but we had a shortage of players in that position because Gabriel Jesus had moved up to join the senior side. The other strikers in the squad at that time didn’t bowl me over.
“I looked at Vinicius’s characteristics and suggested to him that he should try to become a forward. That was how it started. He didn’t stand out as a defender, but the change of position helped him to grow in the way that he has.
“I thought he had potential. He accepted the challenge and made it his project. I told him that he didn’t have long to prove himself, given he was in the final year of the youth system.”
In hindsight, Valdares’ decision to play him up top proved to be an inspired choice and the former Caldense coach reveals how the youngster was quick to adapt to his new role.
He added: “I told him that he should watch videos of the great strikers, study their movements and try to add to his own game. He was dedicated and we soon started to see the results.
“He broke into the under-20s starting XI, scoring goals and playing well. We were surprised by his performance levels.
“In a short period of time, he really did well. He gave me a positive response because he really believed that he could adapt to the new position.”
Due to his humble beginnings in Brazil before his move to Europe, the striker has not represented his home country at any age-group.
Arthur Quesada of Brazilian TV channel Esporte Interativo is quoted in the article as saying: “Nobody knows him in Brazil. He’s a pretty unknown player, even now.”
The report reveals how the striker had spells at Portuguese third division side Real Sport Clube, Napoli and Monaco with mixed success before exploded into life during his loan spell in Rio Ave, which is what is said to have convinced Benfica to sign him in 2019.
Vinicius made an instant impact at Benfica, finishing the season as the club’s top scorer last season and he will now be hoping to make a similar impact in his first season at Spurs.
Spurs Web Opinion
It is not often that someone plays as a centre-back until they are 20 and then reaches the pinnacle of the game in a completely different position just five years later. What that proves is that Vinicius is a determined character who is very good at absorbing new information. Hopefully, those characteristics will hold him in good stead at Spurs.
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