Vitor Roque is switching sides…
Barcelona has reached an agreement to sign the 18-year-old Brazilian professional footballer and Campeonato Brasileiro Série A club Athletico Paranaense forward for approximately €40 million ($43.6m).
ESPN revealed in June that Barca was optimistic of landing Roque as they look for a backup and heir to veteran striker Robert Lewandowski, who will turn 35 in August.
Roque ticked all the boxes and following negotiations led by new sporting director Deco, Barca has struck a deal for the Brazil international.
However, due to the club’s financial problems, it remains unclear when he’ll be able to join his new team, with Barca currently in excess of their LaLiga-imposed spending limit and only able to spend 50% of anything they save or raise on registering new players.
Therefore, the LaLiga champions are working on three different scenarios, which involve Roque either arriving in January, next summer or in the current transfer window.
On Tuesday, Barca’s directors put up a guarantee of €6.7m ($7.3m) against their viability plan to ensure they will be able to inscribe the new contracts signed by Ronald Araújo, Marcos Alonso, Sergi Roberto and Iñaki Peña.
They also still need to register Ilkay Gündoğan, who has arrived from Manchester City as a free agent, and defender Iñigo Martínez, whose signing from Athletic Club is expected to be confirmed this week.
Therefore, any further additions will be subject to players leaving first, with Barca also keen to lighten the load in attack before bringing in Roque, who can also play wide if needed but is predominantly a No.9.
Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembélé, Raphinha, Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati have been competing for just two places in the front line since coach Xavi Hernandez switched to a midfield four.
Despite closing a deal for Roque, Barca’s main aim after signing Gündoğan and Martínez is still to find a midfield replacement for Sergio Busquets, who will join Inter Miami CF.
Girona‘s Oriol Romeu is currently the leading target, while ESPN revealed on Tuesday the club are also in talks to sign Real Valladolid right-back Iván Fresneda.
Therefore, sources say signing and registering Roque in the current transfer window is complicated, with January perhaps more likely, although the window remains open until Sept. 1.
Roque caught Barca’s attention after starring for Athletico and Brazil’s 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 last five games and one at the weekend in a 2-2 draw against Palmeiras, for whom Real Madrid-bound Endrick was also on target.