Vinicius Souza’s path to joining Sheffield United was a tale of enduring suspense and eagerness. And he tells us all about it in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports Premier League.
In the lead-up to his £10 million transfer from Lommel to Sheffield United in August, he found himself residing in a Manchester hotel, trapped in a state of limbo as negotiations unfolded. Each passing day seemed to stretch endlessly, leaving him desperate for resolution.
Reflecting on that pivotal moment, Souza recounts his unwavering commitment to the move: He had enthusiastically agreed from the very beginning. He yearned to come, and the manager was equally eager to have me on board. However, the club needed to engage in talks with City to finalize the deal.
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Souza begins training but fears injury
During this perplexing period, Souza, who had earned acclaim after a stellar loan spell with Espanyol in La Liga, was granted access to Manchester City’s training facilities. Yet, the specter of potential injury loomed large, limiting his training to brief, cautious sessions.
“I could only train a little bit, because they said it was risky, in case of injury,” he told Sky Sports. “So, I would do like 30 minutes, then I’d have to leave the pitch. I’d go to the gym, but I couldn’t train hard and that meant I didn’t have a pre-season.”
Now, speaking as a Sheffield United player six weeks later, Souza can reflect on this tumultuous period with a grin. His Premier League caliber is unmistakable, and his perpetually sunny disposition shines through, leaving no doubt about his optimism and enthusiasm for the future.
Vinícius Souza is a Blade. 🇧🇷✍️ pic.twitter.com/i8Nk17nRbw
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) August 9, 2023
He affectionately describes his new teammates, saying, “The guys are crazy, such good guys, the staff as well. Now, I say they are like my family. I am here at the training ground more than I am at home.”
What made his integration even smoother was the dedication of his manager, Paul Heckingbottom, even before he officially joined. Souza had extensive conversations with the manager, through WhatsApp, over the phone, and even via video calls. He showed him training sessions so Souza could prepare himself for what awaited him.
These video sessions proved invaluable as Souza seamlessly assimilated into the team when he finally got the green light. His debut as a late substitute against Crystal Palace on the opening day, a mere 72 hours after signing, marked the beginning of a string of consecutive starts.
91.3% Passing Accuracy.
5 Duels won.
Another fine display in central midfield from Vini Souza. 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/wpNqVAFY8o
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) September 17, 2023
Although Sheffield United has only managed one point in their efforts thus far, a meager return considering their close matches against Tottenham and Manchester City, Souza’s performances in the midfield have been a shining light.
The dream of playing in the Premier League fulfilled
Nonetheless, he’s thrilled to have fulfilled his long-standing dream of playing in the Premier League. Standing at 6 feet 2 inches, with his robust physique, long, graceful strides, and aggressive playing style, the 24-year-old appears tailor-made for the competition.
Souza excels predominantly as a ball-winning midfielder. In the previous season in La Liga, only one player, Real Betis’ Guido Rodriguez, registered more tackles and interceptions. Souza is already amassing impressive stats in his new environment.
His eagerness for duels sets him apart. After five games, his 65 percent success rate in duels ranks him fourth among all Premier League midfielders. “I love to win duels, he says. “Everybody knows that’s important in the Premier League because the games are so hard.”