Barcelona's Vitor Roque Deal Offers A Glimpse Of Their Dangerous Game

The Athletico Paranaense forward will join for the 2024-25 season
11:00, 16 Jul 2023

Barcelona have landed 18-year-old Athletico Paranaense striker Vitor Roque for an initial fee around £25 million. With add-ons that outlay could increase by over £26m. Roque will remain part of the Paranaense squad for the remainder of their campaign, and is not expected to turn out for Barcelona until the start of the 2024-25 campaign at the earliest.

On the surface this is quite normal. Plenty of teams have invested in future talent and allowed them to keep developing on loan at their current clubs. Julian Alvarez went back to River Plate on loan before enjoying his breakthrough season at Manchester City last year. Palmeiras’ teenage sensation Endrick is going to remain with the Brazilian club until 2024, despite signing with Real Madrid in 2022.


But while this type of deal is not uncommon, Barcelona’s motivation is a little different. They clearly do rate Roque as a talent for the future. The release clause in excess of £400m they’ve put in his deal is a testament to that. But as with anything pertaining to Barcelona these days, the situation is a little more complicated than that.

If Roque were to join this summer, the club simply wouldn’t be able to register him. As has been the case over the previous few windows, Barca need to clear space in both their permitted wage bill and the squad itself in order to register players. Inigo Martinez and Ilkay Gundogan have already joined on free transfers, with manager Xavi Hernandez also keen on Girona midfielder Oriol Romeu. Antoine Griezmann and Francisco Trincao have gone, with Sergio Busquets departing at the end of his contract. But Barcelona are still counting the pennies and trying to make the faces fit in their squad.

In an ideal world, the promising Roque would come in now to bolster their attack. Brazil’s youngest ever debutant, he already looks ready for the big time. With Robert Lewandowski fearsome but turning 35 next month, the time is ripe for some competition. Barcelona’s squad is loaded with players like Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres and Raphinha who excel out wide. But they are without a proper centre forward to deputise for Lewandowski.


But this is not an ideal world and the fact Roque is staying in Brazil certainly seems as much down to La Liga regulations as any talk of him developing further. Last season, a series of 'economic levers' were pulled to keep Barcelona competitive. It worked, with the club winning La Liga for the first time since Lionel Messi left the club. But it has become clear that the Blaugrana’s issues are not going away.

This time the damage isn’t too severe. Their financial foibles have only robbed them of a season of a potentially electric young talent. But it has also robbed them of years of European achievement, several La Liga title challenges and, most keenly felt of all, their greatest ever player. Twice in fact, when budgeting for the fact Messi toyed with a return upon leaving Paris Saint-Germain. There will be more transfers like this. More cases of planning for the future while the present rots. Barcelona will probably be fine. They are the reigning La Liga champions after all. But they’d do well to remember no club is too big to fail, and sailing so close to the wind could sink them eventually.

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