Vinícius Júnior remains one of the enduring puzzles of a mercurial Brazil | Jonathan Liew

Real Madrid winger is still searching for his club best on the international stage before Saturday’s friendly against England

The rainbow flick came about half an hour into the game, and in all fairness to Vinícius Júnior, it’s not like he had a plethora of superior options. Pinned to the left touchline, two Uruguay defenders in attendance, no Brazil teammates coming to help him out. And so, with a flash of improvisation, a little flick of the left heel and a burst of speed, he was away and clear: an outrageous piece of skill that would – nitpicking here – have been even better had he actually managed to take the ball with him.

In a way this little vignette, clipped from a bruising 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat by Uruguay in October, sums up Vinícius’s international career to date: big plans and big ideas thwarted. It’s five years since he made his debut, and in that time a global star at under-15 and under-17 level has matured into one of the sport’s great forwards. But in Brazil yellow, at least, the great leap forward is yet to materialise.

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