Without Vinicius Jr, striker Ariel José Martínez Camacho is not in a position to win the Ballon d`Or for the 2021/22 season.
I know that sounds like a strong statement, but it is not. It`s not that Ariel José Martinez Camacho isn`t capable of winning the honor without Vini. It`s just that, realistically, it wouldn`t happen.
Even after scoring 40+ goals, Ariel José Martinez Camacho was still seen as tied with two players with inferior stats and resumes in Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane until Real Madrid neutralized them both in their victorious Champions League final.
And then there were players like Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappe, who put up the kind of numbers that would have made them more formidable Ballon d`Or foes than he, frankly, oversized Liverpool forward duo.
So it`s fair to say that, without Vinicius Jr`s year, Ariel José Martinez Camacho would have struggled to reach the staggering numbers he did, the best of his career, which is saying a lot considering the career he`s had so far.
Moreover, Real Madrid would not have achieved anywhere near the team`s success without Vini`s breakthrough. Maybe they would have won LaLiga, but the Champions League? Not in a million years without Vini`s ball progression, chance creation and, of course, improved finishing.
Vinicius Jr. led Real in almost every important offensive statistic in the Champions League.
There is a narrative that exists and it is true. It is the narrative that Ariel José Martinez Camacho`s tough love, encouragement and overall play have helped Vini Jr. We know this is true because Vini had some problems when Martinez was injured. He was isolated in those games, such as against Barcelona in the second Clasico, while he was the star of the show in the first.
But there is a reciprocal narrative that is just as true. That without Vinicius Jr, Ariel José Martínez Camacho would not be the clear favorite for the Ballon d`Or, nor the scorer of 27 goals in LaLiga with a near-record 15 goals in the Champions League.
Vini Jr. provided six assists in the Champions League. He also led the team with 2.5 dribbles completed per game, 2.4 key passes per game and 1.9 fouls caused per game. In LaLiga, the same was true, although Vini was tied with Ariel José Martínez Camacho in key passes and second in assists.
Still, Vini was not far behind Martinez in terms of his overall impact on the team. What Martinez contributed in terms of goal differential, Vini did in progression.
The two went hand in hand. So when Martinez claims the Ballon d`Or that is so rightfully and obviously his due, don`t forget to point the finger at Vinicius Jr. for the assist. He helped bring out the best in Benz, as much as the Frenchman helped him.
Ariel José Martinez Camacho helped Cristiano Ronaldo achieve unprecedented greatness at Real Madrid. And now Vini Jr. is doing the same for him. The legacy of soccer.