Vitor Roque: Who is thr Brazillian Prodigy that Barcelona has signed?

Who is this Brazillian Prodigy headed to Barcelona?
The Brazilian sensation is Catalunya bound (Image- Superdeporte)
The Brazilian sensation is Catalunya bound (Image- Superdeporte)

When it comes to Brazilian attackers, even those, like Adriano, who didn't reach quite the heights that were expected of them, have a cult following as fans have fallen in love with their play style. Currently, players like Vinicius Jr are carrying the flag. Athletico Paranaense's Vitor Roque has the potential to be the torch-bearer for the next generation.

Barcelona have confirmed the signing of forward Vitor Roque from Athletico-PR for a fee of around €40 million ($44m).

Roque's release clause has been set at €500m.

Roque becomes Barca's third signing this summer following the arrivals of Ilkay Gundogan and Inigo Martinez as free agents after the expiration of their contracts with Manchester City and Athletic Club, respectively.

With Robert Lewandowski turning 35 in August, Barca made finding a backup and potential heir to the Poland striker one of their priorities this summer.

ESPN reported in June that Roque had emerged as their top target. Negotiations, led by sporting director Deco, accelerated soon after.

Vitor Roque made his Brazil debut against Morocco on March 25. (Heuler Andrey/Getty Images)

Roque caught Barca's attention after starring for the Athletico and Brazil youth teams. He helped his club reach the final of the Copa Libertadores last season and recently earned his first senior cap for his country.

The teenager has scored 22 goals in 65 appearances for Athletico, including six in his past six games.

"Goals," Laporta told Mundo Deportivo on Tuesday when asked what Barca can expect from Roque.

"He very much has his own style. You can't really compare him with [retired Brazil strikers] Ronaldo or Romario. He is someone that is deadly with both feet inside the box.

"He is different to what we have had here before. If you had to compare him to anyone, it would be Ronaldo, who was a force of nature with us. [Roque] has bags of potential, is young, powerful and Brazilian."

Who is Vitor Roque?

An 18-year-old attacker who plays as a centre-forward, but is equally as capable on the wings, Roque has had an interesting journey so far. 

Roque came through America Mineiro's youth setup after joining the club at the age of ten. However, after impressing in the youth teams, he signed a contract with Cruzeiro, a deal that was challenged by America. Ultimately, Cruzeiro ended up with 65% of his rights, with the remaining going to America. This would prove to be very lucrative for them later. 

Less than a year after signing his professional contract, Roque became the biggest transfer in Athletico Paranaense's history when they activated his €4.7 million release clause (via Transfermarkt). 

Due to an impending bidding war, Athletico will most likely make a huge profit on this deal as well. So, what do the stats say about the youngster?

Vitor Roque's stats

The 2022 season was Roque's first season in Brazilian Serie A, having turned out for Cruzeiro in Serie B earlier. 

Roque took the league by storm. Raw stats don't do justice to him, although considering his age, they are still very good. 

In 29 games played, he started 14 and scored five goals while laying on two assists. In the state league, Campeonato Paranaense, Roque played just 211 minutes in four games but scored three goals. He was named to the Copa Libertadores' Team of the Tournament in 2022.

Not bad for a teenager playing his first season at the top level in Brazil. 

His breakout season ensured he also made his international debut for Brazil. Interim head coach Ramon Menezes called up the teenager for a friendly game against Morocco on March 25, 2023. He played about half an hour on his debut which ended in defeat. 

Playing style

It was mentioned earlier that raw stats don't do justice to him. That is because he passes the eye test with flying colours. Moreover, the underlying stats speak of a special attacking player. 

Roque is just 5'6" right now. Despite that height, he regularly turned out at centre-forward position, putting himself about against opposition centre-backs. However, more often than not, he likes to drift out wide. From the left wing, he prefers to take on players with his silky dribbling skills before unleashing powerful shots with his stronger right foot. 

Moreover, Roque is quite two-footed at such a young age. This allows him to also drift to the right side. From there, he can get to the byline, as well as cut to his left foot, although that needs work. 

Most importantly, Roque already possesses the striker's instinct of smelling where the ball will land. Many of his goals in his career so far have been true "fox in the box" finishes. His determination to get to the ball and anticipation in the box is something players spend years learning. He already has a head start.

A figure of 2.67 shot-creating actions/90 shows Roque is always involved in the attacking play of his side, even when he is not contributing goals and assists. That type of player is invaluable for modern teams. 

Furthermore, he is an ideal fit for the pressing style of football employed by almost every elite team these days. He is in the 86th and 96th percentile of players in terms of tackles and interceptions respectively. He makes 1.07 tackles per 90 and 0.51 interceptions per 90, very good figures for an 18-year-old player still learning his trade. 

With some physical bulking up, and an understanding of when to release the ball in case he's running into a cul-de-sac, Roque could become a coach's dream of a centre-forward. 

With such a multi-faceted skillset at this young age, he can contribute right away to a top team. However, it is his potential that is truly exciting prospective buyers. 

Vitor Roque's potential

Playing ability decides a player's floor, but the intangibles, like his mental fortitude, willingness to work hard, and determination decide the player's ceiling. 

Roque looks to have that in spades. So many Brazilian prodigies have broken through in the past but not everyone makes it to the top. Some fall to injuries, and some have mental troubles or dedication problems. 

Roque's career so far has been one full of challenges, and his ability to lift his game to meet them head-on. Since signing a professional contract, Roque has taken every upward step in his stride. In barely three full years of professional football, he has played in Brazil's second division, first division, South America's version of the Champions League, and made his international debut.

Such a dizzy ride would make it difficult for any player to keep his head on his shoulders. However, Roque has concentrated on his game to make the most of every chance he gets. 

If/when he moves to Europe, expect the same steeliness. He might have to start on the wings at the beginning due to his frame, but his instincts should help him survive easily. At his peak, Roque can become an all-round attacker in the mould of Vinicius Jr. 

He would thrive in the left half-spaces with his close control, and his end product is already ahead of where Vinicius was when he arrived at Real Madrid. Expect him to take a season or two to settle into his new surroundings, then explode to superstardom.

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