Carlo Ancelotti has called on officials to dole out "justice" to prevent Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior from being targeted by aggressive opponents.
🔛⚽🔥#RMCity pic.twitter.com/74K2L228dB— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 28, 2023
Vinicius has contributed 18 goal involvements (10 goals, eight assists) during another fine campaign in LaLiga, but the Brazilian has repeatedly received harsh treatment from opposing defenders.
The winger was the centre of attention once again during Tuesday's 4-2 defeat at Girona, being booked for his furious reaction after Santiago Bueno aggressively kicked the ball against him.
Vinicius has drawn 113 fouls in LaLiga this season, comfortably the highest tally in the competition – Rayo Vallecano's Isi Palazon is second with 87.
Vinicius has also been targeted by racist chants from opposing supporters on multiple occasions this term, causing LaLiga to release several statements in support of the 22-year-old.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's fixture against Almeria, Ancelotti repeated his calls for Vinicius to receive more protection on and off the pitch, saying: "He's a player that dribbles one-on-one. In order to stop these players, people stop them with fouls.
"We are concerned for our player, and the only way to preserve these players is justice. Only this can prevent injuries from happening.
"It's true that Vinicius suffers a lot of nasty tackles. In the past there were other players, like Diego Maradona and Pele, who also suffered a lot from these challenges.
"We have been very lucky that Vinicius has a strong physique and is capable of enduring them. He has not had any injuries.
"There are two topics – one inside the pitch and one outside the pitch. One of them, on the outside, is bad for society. A modern society cannot be like that."
With Madrid trailing Barcelona by 11 points at the top of LaLiga, some have suggested Ancelotti's own future could be dictated by his team's ability to defend their Champions League crown.
Ancelotti has previously expressed a desire to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu until the expiration of his contract in 2024, and the Italian repeated that intention on Friday.
Asked whether he needed to lead Madrid to a 15th European Cup/Champions League title to keep his job, Ancelotti said: "That is not so.
"My future is already written, I'll stay until 2024. After that, I don't know."