Vitor Roque: Who is Barcelona’s new superstar?

vitor roque

Barcelona has secured the signing of Vitor Roque, a young forward who previously played for Athletico Paranaense. In Brazil, the youngster is widely known. Here, we’ll provide some information for those who are not yet familiar with this talented football prodigy.

Vitor Roque’s Journey

Vitor Hugo Roque Ferreira, or simply Vitor Roque, was born on February 28, 2005, in the peaceful city of Timóteo, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

According to reports, he began his career playing as a defensive midfielder, the classic number 5, with a strong focus on marking. Gradually, he was moved forward and eventually found himself in the attacking third of the field, where he currently plays as a center forward.

He is part of the talented generation of young players from América Mineiro. Vitor was part of the team that reached the final of the Copa São Paulo de Futebol Jr this year, facing Palmeiras.

However, we are not talking about an ordinary player here. The young talent made a move to another club in Belo Horizonte, Cruzeiro, in 2019.

Cruzeiro recognized Vitor’s quality and spared no effort to acquire him from their rival when he was just 14 years old.

América-MG embolsa R$ 8,4 milhões com venda de Vitor Roque ao Athletico-PR | américa-mg | ge

Image: Facebook Vitor Roque

Upon joining Cruzeiro, the athlete didn’t have an easy time. The club was going through its most challenging period in history. At the end of the 2019 season, Cruzeiro was relegated to Serie B, where they remained for two years.

Despite the unfavorable environment for the development of a young player, Vitor Roque proved he was not just an ordinary player.

With the keen eye of Vanderlei Luxemburgo, Cruzeiro’s coach at the time, the gem was spotted playing for the U-17 team and in the Copa São Paulo de Futebol Jr. Luxemburgo promptly called him up to train with the senior team. Cruzeiro was fighting against relegation to Serie C, given the calamitous situation of the team.

The youngster made his debut on October 13, 2021, in the national derby between Cruzeiro and Botafogo, in Serie B.

Cruzeiro managed to stay in Serie B and continued to compete in the following year.

Vitor Roque scored his first goal wearing the Celeste jersey in a 2-2 draw against Vila Nova/MG. He capitalized on the goalkeeper’s rebound and fired a shot to score his first professional goal on February 20, 2022, in the Campeonato Mineiro.

From that point on, he started scoring goals consistently. In the next round, he scored in the derby against Atlético Mineiro, despite Cruzeiro’s 2-1 defeat.

For Cruzeiro, he scored 6 goals and provided 1 assist in 16 matches. Absolutely impressive numbers for a 16-year-old boy, especially considering the pressure Cruzeiro was under as a massive club that had never been relegated until they found themselves in Serie B for the second consecutive season.

The Controversial Transfer to Athletico Paranaense

Cruzeiro’s situation was largely due to financial issues. The club accumulated a total debt exceeding R$ 1 billion. This debt was accumulated through the purchase of aging star players, such as Fred and Thiago Neves. Additionally, there were investigations into potential fraud against creditors by the club’s leaders.

This left the club extremely vulnerable. When Ronaldo Fenômeno acquired SAF, he aimed to address the situation by implementing professional management, attempting to reduce the debt and allow EC Cruzeiro to continue its activities.

Thus, a cleanup of the squad began, along with the search for alternative sources of income.

The problem in the transfer started with Alexandre Mattos, who was the Director of Football at Cruzeiro, moving to the same position at Athletico Paranaense.

According to Ronaldo, Mattos had privileged information about Vitor Roque’s contract and took advantage of it to find a loophole in the R$ 24 million release clause for the domestic market.

Athletico’s President, Petraglia, didn’t think twice. He knew that the amount was meager compared to what Roque could produce, both on the field and as a financial asset. Thus, he deposited the player’s release clause and brought him to the club.

Alexandre Mattos defended himself against Ronaldo’s accusations, stating that there was an interest from the club’s leadership in selling Vitor Roque, but the desired value was R$ 40 million.

The fact remains that the 17-year-old striker left Belo Horizonte for Curitiba and joined Athletico Paranaense.

O pior negócio da vida de Ronaldo. Deixou escapar R$ 371 milhões.Vitor Roque vendido mais caro que Endrick. Só perde para Neymar - Prisma - R7 Cosme Rímoli

Image: Twitter

The Crucial Arrival at Furacão

The arrival at Arena da Baixada was crucial for the continuation of the superstar’s career.

Athletico Paranaense is undoubtedly one of the most well-structured clubs in Brazil. With a cohesive management and a well-defined plan, the team has achieved great success.

In the past five years, the club has won two Copa Sudamericana titles and one Copa do Brasil, in addition to reaching the final of the Copa Libertadores against Flamengo in the last edition of the competition.

This stability provided the perfect environment for Vitor Roque to showcase his football skills, with a playing system that suited him.

His debut was on April 17, 2022, coming on as a substitute in the 1-0 loss to Atlético Mineiro in the Brazilian Championship.

His first goal for Furacão came against Cuiabá in a 1-0 victory, in the 8th round of the Brasileirão.

But his main introduction to the Athletico fans came in the Libertadores. The team had lost their regular starter, Pablo, for the match against Libertad in the round of 16. As a result, Vitor Roque had to be hastily registered to fill the void.

He started the game as a starter. Just five minutes into the most prestigious competition in the Americas, the young talent opened the way to qualification with a goal.

In addition to that, he single-handedly led Furacão to the final by scoring the winning goal against Estudiantes in the semifinals.

For Athletico, he scored an incredible 22 goals and provided 9 assists in 66 games. The 17/18-year-old player performed at an exceptional level in the Brasileirão and Libertadores, showing no mercy to his opponents. This resulted in an average of almost one goal contribution every two games.

Vitor Roque é um dos brasileiros mais jovens a marcar na história da Libertadores

Image: Getty Images

Youth and senior national team

As expected, Vitor Roque would be a regular presence in the call-ups for the Brazilian U-20 national team. However, he was not always released by Athletico due to his crucial role in the senior team.

Nevertheless, Furacão allowed Roque to compete in the South American U-20 Championship. And it was a wise decision.

The performance of the Brazilian national team was outstanding, and they became champions. The team benefited from the brilliant performances of the duo Vitor Roque and Andrey, who were the tournament’s top scorers with 6 goals each.

With the victory, Brazil qualified for the U-20 World Cup. However, they did not perform well in the tournament, largely due to the absence of Vitor Roque, who was not released by Athletico Paranaense.

Artilheiro, Vitor Roque celebra vitória em estreia no Sul-Americano Sub-20 | seleção brasileira | ge

Image: Rafael Ribeiro/CBF

Transfer to Barcelona

It was months of negotiations. It was even reported that Vitor Roque had been a long-standing dream of Barcelona. Apparently, the Spanish club had initiated talks for the forward when he was still playing for América Mineiro and Cruzeiro, but the transfer did not materialize.

The official offer from Barcelona was €40 million, which did not interest Furacão (Athletico Paranaense) as his official release clause was €100 million.

Therefore, Barça proposed a more substantial offer. The proposal accepted by the player and the club was €40 million fixed, combined with €21 million in variables, in addition to 21% in taxes and 20% of the value of any future sale.

According to André Cury, the player’s agent, the total amount surpasses the sale of Neymar from Santos to Barcelona and Endrick from Palmeiras to Real Madrid.

The playing style of Vitor Roque and what to expect?

Those who have followed Vitor Roque’s career from the beginning know that the expectations are sky-high. The player has a playing style similar to Ronaldo Fenômeno. He possesses incredible physical strength for an 18-year-old athlete.

He easily outpaces opponents and leaves them behind. He is an exceptional goal scorer and extremely skillful.

Since the age of 17, he has already shown composure on the field. As mentioned, he was one of the key players who propelled Athletico to the Copa Libertadores final, scoring crucial goals under immense pressure.

Therefore, he appears to be seemingly ready to play in Barcelona’s senior team without the need for the usual loans to smaller clubs to gain experience.

If utilized calmly and in the right manner, he has a great chance of following the path of traditional Brazilian superstars who have donned the Barça jersey, such as Romário, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, and Neymar.

Do you believe Vitor Roque can deliver the expected performance? Should he be loaned out to gain more experience?

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Written by Vitor F L Miller

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Tags: International Market, Highlights

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