Vitor Roque, Athletico-PR player celebrates his goal during a match against Atletico-MG at the Arena da Baixada stadium for the Brazilian championship A 2023.

Watch out, Lewandowski – Barcelona’s Brazilian dream is en route & striking his way to stardom

Xavi can’t stop when it comes to integrating generational La Masia talents into his Barcelona team at the moment, but it’s a Brazilian export who appears to be next in line.

It feels like we can’t go a week in football at the moment without Barcelona freakishly spawning in another youth prospect, capable of either scoring worldies for fun, making defenders look silly or gliding around the pitch with the ball seemingly bolted to their boots.

The emergence of Lamine Yamal appears to have set off a violent chain reaction around the club, with the likes of Fermin Lopez and Marc Guiu both bursting onto the scene as of late and looking like world beaters in the making.

But while Guiu looks like he’s got the tools to step up in attack and lead the line for Barcelona as Robert Lewandowski fades out of the picture, he faces stiff competition – from an absolute freak of nature who’s already the prince of Brazilian football.

It doesn’t have to be a competition, though. There’s room for two of the top, and if Barca can figure that out, a combination of Guiu and young Vitor Roque might just spell the end for just about every other side in Europe.

Roque, aged just 18, is headed to La Blaugrana in January and he’s arriving not only with the ambition of dethroning Lewandowski, but stealing a march on fellow Brazilian Endrick, who will join Real Madrid in 2024.

Despite barely being old enough to legally purchase Grand Theft Auto, young Roque has already made just shy of 100 senior appearances and has 34 senior goals to his name, with 13 assists to supplement those already freakish statistics.

Earning full international honours for Brazil back in March and becoming the Selecao’s youngest ever debutant, 2023 has proven a brilliant year for Roque, who is firing them in for Athetico Paranaense after moving from Corinthians back in 2022.

A 2023 state Championship victory with Athletico followed on from helping them reach the final of the Copa Libertadores in 2022, an exceptionally rare accolade which not many footballers can boast.

To summarise, then, Roque is Barcelona-bound at the beginning of 2024 with a Copa Libertadores runners-up medal, the weight of being Brazil’s youngest ever debutant, and having scored 20 times already this season for his current employers.

Not bad, that. But does he pass the eye test? You bet he does.

Barcelona have done it again.

Sod it, we’re saying it – they might actually be back this time.

Highlights are always to be taken with a pinch of salt, but what immediately stands out is that this doesn’t look like a footballer who was born after Green Day released American Idiot.

Roque looks exceptionally wise beyond his years, which is clearly why Barcelona were so keen to get him in from January 2024, rather than waiting for the 2024-25 campaign.

When not occupying a defender or driving into the box, Roque appears to be dropping deep and terrorising with flicks and pings with the outside of his boot, or simply smashing the ball towards goal.

It’s exceptionally early days and learning as Lewandowski’s apprentice will serve him well in the turn of the new year, but it won’t be long before young Roque has knocked the Poland international off his perch.

He’s coming for the crown. That’s a warning to Lewandowski and Endrick – his national team colleague and soon-to-be bitter rival when he arrives at Real Madrid.

By Mitch Wilks

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