La Liga: Winter arrival Vitor Roque set for FC Barcelona debut
NEW DELHI — Brazilian sensation Vitor Roque is ready to be the next great sensation in Spanish football after arriving in Barcelona to finally join up with the FC Barcelona first team, six months after signing for the club.
The 18-year-old has signed a long-term deal tying him to the Blaugrana until 2031 and will wear the number 19 shirt previously worn by the likes of Ferran Torres, Sergio Aguero, Patrick Kluivert and even Lionel Messi.
What’s more, Roque is in line to make his debut on Thursday night as Xavi’s side travels to the Canary Islands to face in-form UD Las Palmas to round off the first half of the season.
Despite his young age, Roque has already played a great deal of football for Athletico Paranaense and the Brazilian U-20 national team, catching Barca’s eye. With 21 goals in 45 games this season, he has already won the Parana state championship and has quickly become one of Brazil’s leading goalscorers. In addition, he won the South American Under-20 title last February, leading the tournament goalscoring charts with six goals.
With him all set to make a splash in La Liga, here are a few things you might not know about Barca’s newest Brazilian star.
He’s already drawn praise from a world champion coach, former Athletico Paranaense and the Brazilian national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who won the World Cup in 2002, has already made his admiration of Vitor Roque known. Scolari coached the player at club level in 2022 and has never hidden his admiration for the youngster.
“He has great potential to improve. At 17, he’s experienced a Copa Libertadores final. He’s been in situations where he’s been the main player. He’s very centered, and balanced and listens a lot to what we say,” said Scolari.
He’s already made his full debut for Brazil, following in the footsteps of Ronaldo Nazario.
Vitor Roque made his first appearance for the Brazilian national team in March 2023, against Morocco. He played 25 minutes in a friendly, enough to make him the youngest player (18 years and 25 days) to make his international debut for Brazil since 1994 when a certain Ronaldo Nazario made his debut (18 years and 17 days).
He’s technically the youngest player in the FC Barcelona first-team squad. FC Barcelona’s current first-team squad has five players under the age of 21, and Vitor Roque is the youngest – technically, as 16-year-old Lamine Yamal is registered with the club’s ‘B’ team despite being a regular for coach Xavi Hernandez.
Born on February 28, 2005, in Timoteo, Minas Gerais, Vitor is six months younger than the team’s previous youngest player, Gavi, who was born in August 2004. And get this: Vitor was just two years old when Robert Lewandowski, the team’s most senior player, made his debut in professional football.
He will also be the first Brazilian to join Barca directly from Brazilian football since 2019.
The Catalan club has boasted 46 Brazilians throughout its history, but only 16 of them have come directly from Brazil. The last to join the team in this case was Emerson Royal, who joined from Atletico Mineiro in 2019, although he never played a full season for Barca and played first for Real Betis before moving to English football. He’s friends with Real Madrid-bound Endrick.
Vitor Roque has never hidden his friendship with Endrick, who will join La Liga leaders Real Madrid shortly. They always complement each other and support each other to grow together in football.
“We talk all the time on social media,” says Vitor. “He’s an incredible guy, he’s got a lot of potential. We’re two young talents. He’s a great player and also a great person. I hope we can have a great future together.”