Vinicius Junior has experienced a topsy-turvy start to his Real Madrid career.
The Br azilian blew hot and cold during his first few seasons at the Bernabeu and often frustrated fans and, at times, his teammates alike.
While clearly blessed with bundles of natural talent, his decision making often left a lot to be desired - a characteristic not uncommon in talented young wingers.
During the half-time interval of one Champions League match in October 2020, Benzema was filmed complaining to Ferland Mendy about their teammate following a particularly frustrating first half.
The Frenchman told his compatriot: "Brother, don’t [pass the ball] to him. On my mother’s life. He is playing against us."
Real Madrid were behind to Borussia Monchengladbach at the time and went 2-0 down when Marcus Thuram bagged his second goal of the game after half-time.
Late goals from Benzema and Casemiro, however, earned an important point for Los Blancos.
But the post-match headlines were dominated by Benzema’s surprisingly brutal comments about young Vinicius.
Spanish outlet Marca reported that Benzema apologised to Vinicius after the footage went viral on social media.
Less than a year after that incident, Benzema has now hailed Vinicius as a “phenomenon” and said “I love playing with him” after Madrid recorded a 5-2 victory over Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Benzema netted a hat-trick in the rout and also provided an assist for Vinicius, who now has four goals in four La Liga appearances this season.
The 21-year-old has been sensational so far this season and is silencing his doubters with each passing week.
On his latest performance, Marca wrote: " Carlo Ancelotti seems to have turned Vinicius into a different player. The skill, pace and ability was always there, but he has taken a leap, becoming more decisive, more effective and more purposeful."
"He's gone from an expensive prospect to looking like he could be not only the top player on this team but a poster boy for LaLiga Santander. Playing like this, there's no stopping him and it's exciting to watch a star being born."
"There were shades of his compatriot Ronaldo in his goal to give Los Blancos the lead at 3-2, and that's saying something, while only Benzema has more goals in LaLiga Santander this season."
When you’re being compared to Ronaldo Nazario, you know you’re doing something right.
Vinicius has endured his fair share of criticism in recent years but, the way things are currently going, it appears as if he’s heading right to the very top.