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What can Barcelona expect from Vitor Roque?

The young Brazilian will arrive with hype and potential

Athletico Paranaense v Alianza Lima - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2023 Photo by Heuler Andrey/Getty Images

Barcelona have addressed a critical need for the future in finding their successor to Robert Lewandowski.

His name is Vitor Roque, an 18-year-old Brazilian who has taken over the Brasileirão, as the top goalscoring prospect in the nation. Barcelona got the deal done at €30 million, with an additional €30m in variables.

This may be the biggest signing the Blaugrana make this summer, and it’s a gamble the club felt it had to make to invest in the future.

Lewandowski was always a stop-gap to help Barca succeed in the present, and to instill much-needed professionalism and a winning pedigree in a young dressing room. Like Lewandowski, Roque had other options, but was always holding out for Barcelona, because it was the place he truly wanted to be.

This is a player to get excited for, but Barca fans will have to wait until January of 2024 to see him take the field in the colors for the first time.

Athletico Paranaense v Alianza Lima - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2023 Photo by Heuler Andrey/Getty Images

Maybe that’s a good thing. Going into the season, Barcelona will have Lewandowski leading the front line once again. The Poland international will be hungry to show he can do better than what he accomplished in his productive debut season, especially considering the slow down he had in the second half.

Barcelona need to get off to a fast start in La Liga, and Lewandowski will have a big part to play in scoring the goals that gets his team the wins.

The pressure of the group stage of the Champions League, however, is where he will really be needed. Vitor Roque was never going to get those minutes. Lewandowski is the captain of this team, whether he formally gets the nod or not, and will be eager to get back into the knockout rounds, and help Barcelona make a deep run.

RC Celta v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

As a backup, Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati are next up. Both have been firm in their determination to stay in the city of Gaudi, and prove their ability to the club. What’s needed from them is nothing short of goals. And if it doesn’t happen in the first few months of the season, they’ll have Roque knocking at the door.

And that’s exactly what Xavi and Barcelona should want. Competition across all positions, but especially on the forward line, which needs to be more goal dangerous than they were last year.

January is always a tricky time. You want to bring in players to fortify the team, but most of the time, signings come at a premium.

Barcelona will already have Roque on the way, and that will be a big boost as they look for a shot of adrenaline to get them going during the crunch time of the season, as well as the cup competitions.

Athletico Paranaense v Alianza Lima - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2023 Photo by Heuler Andrey/Getty Images

But who is Vitor Roque, and what can we expect from him?

First of all, we need to understand he is on a long-term deal, with some saying it could go through 2030, with a release clause of €1 billion.

This is a project, and a decision that wasn’t taken lightly by Joan Laporta and his staff.

He has been a target of Barca for months, and during that time has continued to show his bona fides in Brazil.

Currently he is the second leading scorer in the Serie A with 7 goals through 13 match days.

But that’s not where the interest in Roque begins. The 18-year-old has been making a name for himself for years.

Athletico Paranaense v Atletico Mineiro - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2023 Photo by Gabriel Machado/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Roque signed his first professional contract with Cruzeiro two years ago in the summer of 2021. At 16-years-old, he made his debut as a senior player, and was the second youngest player in the history of the club. He had a slow start, but his goal scoring picked up late in the season, where he scored his first goal, followed by a brace in the Copa do Brasil.

Shortly after, he signed a deal with Atletico Paranaense in April as the 2022 season was getting underway. He was a regular for the team, and scored five goals in his first campaign.

In 2023, he has 15 goals and 5 assists across all competitions with Atletico Paranaense, while adding 6 goals and 1 assist for Brazil at the South America Youth Football Championship, making him the player of the tournament, and raising his profile across Europe.

CONMEBOL U-20 Colombia: Brazil Vs Uruguay Photo by: Cristian Bayona/Long Visual Press/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Barcelona has been leading the charge all the way, and have finally landed their man.

The question will be how Roque fits into the team, and Xavi’s system specifically.

At 5 foot 8 inches, he’s similar to Memphis Depay in stature, built strong and fast, with the technical ability you’d come to expect from Brazilian players.

Positionally, Roque is a center forward first and foremost, but has the skill set to deputize on the wing, or as a second striker.

It’s exciting for Barca to have a goal scoring threat with the physicality and desire of Roque, something that Ferran and Ansu Fati lack, and even Lewandowski to some degree.

What he has shown in his young career, is a hunger and instinct to score goals, and not just the pretty ones.

He has an instinct in front of goal to be in the right place and the right time, and a poacher’s ability to get to the ball first and put it in the net.


Of course, it’s one thing to do it in South America, and another for your game to translate in Europe.

But this is a bet that Barca felt it had to make.

Center forwards don’t grow on trees, and Lewandowski isn’t getting any younger.

They structured a deal that cost a good sum up front, but won’t break the bank, with most of the compensation dependent on variables.

Having a young and hungry center forward, who pushes the players around him to not just play well, but to score goals, will be an asset to the team on the training pitch and on game days.

Most important, it addresses an important need for the future, while giving Roque the space and time to develop, while Lewandowski continues to carry most of the load for the next season or two.

In the meantime, this is the type of player you want coming off the bench.

Flamengo v Athletico Paranaense - Copa Do Brasil 2023 Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

He is a fighter who will put in a shift on both sides of the ball, and will energize the team in the moments when they need a spark. Barcelona did not have impact substitutes last season, and haven’t been effective at coming from behind for years. Being a fireball off the bench could give Roque a role to play from the beginning.

I for one am very excited to see what the young Brazilian can do.

Barcelona is building a young team for the future, that already is looking promising from the perspective of the midfield, and even the defense, but the forwards will be a lingering question until someone performs consistently.

Roque will get his chance.

As an aside, Barcelona could really use some Brazilian flair. I miss the fun that players like Ronaldinho and Dani Alves brought to the team. I don’t mean to stereotype Roque, but a little samba time at the Camp Nou would be something to look forward to.

Welcome Vitor Roque. January can’t come soon enough.

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