Santiago Solari expressed pride in Vinicius Junior’s ability to “break down the door” and win Real Madrid fans over, ahead of their pre-season friendly with his Club America side.
After coming up through the club’s reserve ranks, Solari was faced with the unenviable task of being Real Madrid’s caretaker first team coach in a post-World Cup year when Julen Lopetegui was sacked in October 2018.
The 45-year-old lasted less than five months, but Zinedine Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti arguably went on to reap the benefits of his integration of players such as Vinicius and Federico Valverde, while shifting Isco and Marcelo to the periphery. Vinicius was a particularly inconsistent case initially, before enjoying a breakout season last term, culminating with his goal in May’s Champions League final.
The now-Club America boss sought to shift praise onto the players themselves, however, as well the structure and developmental environment Real Madrid provides to emerging talent.
“There is a point of pride for the player in which you think that if you had a 0.5 or one per cent of merit,” Solari told Marca. “But the great merit, as with Valverde, [Sergio] Reguilon, Llorente, they belong to the club, its recruitment departments, the facilities it gives to players.
“The other great merit is from the footballers. If there is a bit of me in what Vinicius has achieved, in how he breaks down the door and wins people’s hearts, he is wonderful, very beautiful.
“The objective of the coach should not be to seek to be right, but to work and do the best possible for an institution at the specific moment in which it is his turn. Real Madrid always makes their way. We have 14 Champions Leagues, and we are always on our way to the next one.”
Ahead of their match, Solari also reserved praise for Ancelotti, describing him as a man of “great” wisdom.
“With Ancelotti I would only listen,” he said. “I don’t know him very well, I’ve greeted him once, probably when I was with the youth ranks and he was with the first team.
“I have a lot of personal sympathy for him and he is a man of great wisdom. I would love to listen to him.”