Rodrygo Goes: One step away from superstardom

The stories of Vinícius Jr. and Rodrygo Goes, the two Brazilian starlets at Real Madrid, has been nothing short of magical.

Both highly touted footballing prodigies known for their speed, dribbling and creativity, the two wingers were bought from Brazil before their 18th birthdays, both bought for what was considered exuberant fees for unproven teenagers (€46m for Viní, €45m for Rodrygo), and both thrust into the spotlight in a post-Ronaldo Real Madrid. Despite these similarities, the trends of their development have been quite different. Rodrygo, who is one year younger than Vinícius, came to Madrid at the start of the 19/20 season, a year after Vinícius did. Unlike Vinícius, Rodrygo looked like a polished mature player from the moment he stepped on the pitch. Rodrygo scored on his debut against Osasuna, and then scored a hat-trick in his UCL debut against Galatasaray. Moreover, unlike Vinícius, Rodrygo did not seem to have any clear flaws in his game; his finishing was excellent for a player of his age, his decision-making was mature, and he had that propensity for genius as well. In his first season, Rodrygo managed 6 goals and 3 assists in the league and CL, higher than the 4 goals and 2 assists Vinícius ended up with, leading to the fanbase asking who really is the more prodigal talent between the two.

 

However, in the ensuing few seasons, their developmental paths diverged greatly. The 20/21 season ended up being down years for both, but the following season proved to be the breakout year for Viní Jr. Producing over 40 G/A in all competitions, including 10 in the UCL and the winner in the final, Vinícius took a massive leap from being a highly touted talent with many flaws, to being one of the very best wingers in the world. That same season, Rodrygo had an incredible campaign as well, with a multitue of iconic moments, but his production and role in the team did not match that of Viní. While Vinícius produced 21 goals and 16 assists in the league and Champions League combined, Rodrygo produced 9 goals and 6 assists. The 22/23 season brought similar results as well, with Rodrygo producing 14 goals and 10 assists in the league and CL, compared to 17 and 10 for Vinícius.

Rodrygo’s numbers compared to Vinícius have not been disappointing at all. For a player of his age bracket (19-22), the numbers are actually very good. His performances have also been fantastic, albeit inconsistent. Yet, their roles in the team have been very different. Vinícius is a guaranteed starter. Up until Benzema left, he was the no.2 guy in attack, and now he is the clear leader. When available, there is no question that Vinícius will start, which has not been the case for Rodrygo. Rodrygo, a natural left-winger, has been pushed to the right, the no.10 role or even as a false-9 to accommodate Viní in his preferred position. If a game needs a change, almost always Rodrygo is subbed out before Vinícius, even if Vinícius has been having a poor game. This season, Rodrygo has produced more output in the league and UCL (10 goals, 6 assists), than Vinícius (8 goals, 4 assists), albeit in 9 more appearances. Yet, despite being available more and creating more, Rodrygo is still very clearly second-fiddle to Viní.

Rodrygo Goes: One step away from superstardom