Real Madrid wonderkid Rodrygo has spoken in glowing terms about how manager Zinedine Zidane in helping him to improve at the Santiago Bernabéu, following the news that the 18-year-old would be called up to Tite’s senior Brazil side later this month.
The former Santos winger joined Real Madrid in a £40m deal during the summer transfer window, following in the footsteps of teammate Vinícius Júnior who arrived from Flamengo in 2018.
Rodrygo is set to make his first senior appearance with Brazil this month after being called up by national team manager Tite, and the 18-year-old was full of praise for Real Madrid’s Zidane for helping him to improve in such a short space of time.
“I met him in pre-season. I came into the dressing room and he was there,” Rodrygo told Esporte Interativo (via Marca).
“I met the players, who I had already seen the season before. When Zidane came to greet me and said my name, it gave me goosebumps.
“Zidane gives me lots of advice. I remember that, when I was injured for one or two months, he always came to speak to me and told me that I had to keep calm.
“He helps me every day and he’s making me improve. He gives me confidence.”
Rodrygo has already scored two goals in four appearances across all competitions for Real Madrid, but he’s competing with the likes of Vinícius, Gareth Bale and Lucas Vázquez for a place in their starting lineup.
A lot has been made specifically of his fight with Vinícius for the starting role at Real Madrid, but Rodrygo insists competition for a place in the starting eleven between the two Brazil international doesn’t spill over into their private lives.
“I’m relaxed. I have to keep working, the coach says that he’s going to play everyone; I know the opportunity is going to come,” he added.
“Competition doesn’t just exist with Vinicius, it exists with all the other attackers. Vini and I are teammates, we’re friends and we don’t even speak about this. He’s helped me quite a bit because he arrived [at Real Madrid] a year before me.
“This comparison [with Vinicius] didn’t exist in Brazil. Not only with him but with other players that came through at São Paulo, Corinthians – there are always comparisons, but we never have them [in our head].
“We continue with our friendship and it’ll always be that way. We support one another and it’ll always be this way.”
For more from Ben Carter, follow him on Twitter!