Ronaldo and Romario are two of the biggest icons in football, and memorable PSV strikers from Brazil. It would be unbelievably unfair pressure – and frankly inaccurate – to compare Carlos Vinicius to the legendary aforementioned pair; however, he is still a real coup for PSV. Having scored goals for a top European side in Benfica and scoring in very limited opportunities for Tottenham, Vinicius arrives with real pedigree and all the signs point to him becoming a dominant striker in the Eredivisie.

  • by Joe Langlands
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Vinicius’s background

Despite eventually turning out for some of Europe’s bigger clubs, Vinicius had a tough start to his career. Originally playing as a centre-back, he was moved to a central defensive midfielder, then to a central-attacking midfielder before finally cementing himself as a striker, having allegedly impressed with his natural finishing ability in training. Vinicius had spent time as a youth player at Santos and Palmeiras before beginning his senior career in Brazil’s fourth and then second tier. While playing in the second division with Gremio Anapolis, Vinicius was loaned to the Portuguese second division making 37 appearances for Real SC. This was a breakthrough season for Vinicius as he scored 19 times in his first season as a striker, looking like he’d always played up front. Vinicius first stint in Europe caught the eye of many in Europe and Napoli struck a deal to sign him. Vinicius was loaned out to Rio Ave in Portugal’s top tier and continued developing well with 14 goals in 20 appearances.

After this loan, the Brazilian had a slight gap in his development. He never made an appearance for parent club Napoli and only scored twice in 16 games for Monaco as they finished embarrassingly low in the table in 17th, only three points off relegation. Having been impressed with his past exploits in Portugal, Benfica had seen enough to part ways with just under 20 million euros to sign Vinicius. The 2019-20 season with Benfica was where Vinicius proved he has all the attributes of a top striker. Vinicius bagged 24 goals in all competitions and once more caught the eye across Europe. With Jose Mourinho being appointed at the helm at Spurs, he turned to one of his ex-clubs to find a worthy back-up striker to Harry Kane. Vinicius joined on loan with an option to buy of around 40 million euros. The majority of Vinicius’s opportunities came in the Europa League, where he was up to the task scoring six times in nine games, Vinicius also scored a hattrick in the FA cup and scored once in the Premier League in one of his only starts against Aston Villa. Vinicius scored 10 in 22 in North London, maintaining almost a 1 in 2 record despite limited chances and with Spurs in a transitional period.

Spurs did not take up the option to buy Vinicius, and when he returned to Benfica he was informed he was not in Jorge Jesus’s plans. This opened the door for clubs in Europe looking for a focal point up top and PSV took the chance securing Vinicius’s signature on a two-year loan deal, beating Frankfurt to the signing, and finding a new striker following the high profile departure of Donyell Malen to Borussia Dortmund.

Vinicius’s strengths and weaknesses

Vinicius is a classic target man, but he is better with his feet than it may seem at first. Standing at 6’3, Vinicius is imposing and effective with his back to goal, evident from the fact he took seven touches in the penalty area per 90 minutes last season. Vinicius is not a phenomenal passer; however, the defenders he occupies and space he creates brings others in to play and creates shooting opportunities. If you had to put Vinicius in a category for his style of player, it would very much be as a poacher. Vinicius may not be impressive in any given shooting statistic, but he has great positioning and takes his chances. Vinicius is clearly a clinical striker as in the past year he has averaged 0.74 goals per 90 and has non penalty xG of 0.77 per 90. This is a testament to Vinicius and his attacking instinct and finishing. These numbers may drop as Vinicius should get much more game time in the Netherlands, yet playing with PSV alongside creators such as Noni Madueke and Mario Götze he should receive a high volume of chances. With real creative force behind him, and the likes of Eran Zahavi and Cody Gakpo potentially partnering him in attack, and less physical defenders that he may be able to bully, Vinicius could have a real abundance of opportunities to score, and history tells us that he takes these chances.

What does Vinicius bring to PSV

So far this season PSV have stuck with a 4-2-3-1, and barring the disappointing exit in the Champions League to Vinicius former employers Benfica, it has been largely successful. Roger Schmidt’s side has played 10 games this season scoring 27 already and conceding seven, this would suggest the team is functional and fluid in the final third, so adding Vinicius to this squad only adds another attacking dimension. Ajax scored 102 goals last season so PSV must be potent upfront this season to help close the 16 point gap from last season, which saw Ajax win the title, and in Vinicius, PSV has potentially a 20, even 30-goal-a-season striker.

Eran Zahavi has been the main striker in the 4-2-3-1 this season, and he is different from Vinicius in the sense that he is more creative and better on the ball whilst also being more of a threat from range. Zahavi has also hit the ground running and has scored five goals in ten games already this season and had 17 goals last season so it will be hard for Carlos Vinicius to dislodge the Israeli from the starting line-up. Having said this, Zahavi and Vinicius’ alternating styles may complement each other with Vinicius being bigger and more of a poacher, while Zahavi is more polished on the ball, this opens up the possibility of playing 2 up top. Perhaps an even better option would be to drop Zahavi deep into the midfield three as he has played this position before and could be just as dangerous operating in the spaces that Vinicius could free for him playing as the lone striker.

Vinicius’s arrival may give Schmidt a bit of a dilemma with who to start; however, the most important thing is that Vinicius is a different option for him and a very effective one at that. PSV has an array of attacking talent at the moment and as such it is an exciting time for the club’s fans, having scored goals around Europe so far and maintaining a commendable rate of scoring, it would be surprising if Vinicius did not repeat history again. With everything evaluated, PSV seems an excellent fit for Vinicius to fill out his potential and gain recognition and as PSV fans will hope, the perfect place for him to score goals.

Joe Langlands (1 Posts)