Barcelona negotiating for teenage Ath. Paranaense striker Vitor Roque
Roque starred in last season's Libertadores and has been compared to Luis Suarez
Barcelona are already working to sign Vitor Roque, the Ath. Paranaense '9', who turns 18 on the 28th, and who they see as having the ideal playing characteristics and mentality to become, in the medium term, a new Luis Suárez.
As SPORT has been able to confirm, the Blaugrana have called the two main executives of the 'Furacao': Luiz Felipe Scolari, who after retiring from the bench has been the new football coordinator since the beginning of January, and the CEO of the club, Alexandre Mattos, considered one of the best executives in the country and who was responsible for creating the current Palmeiras side, reigning champions of the Brasileirao.
The contacts are a declaration of Barça's intentions with the club presided over by Mario Celso Petraglia, who has a reputation for being one of the toughest in the country when it comes to negotiating and disposing of assets.
Barcelona's intention is, firstly, to go forward to lay the groundwork for negotiations and create a favourable environment, taking into account the limitations of Financial Fair Play imposed by Javier Tebas. And, secondly, to take the lead for a centre-forward of extraordinary quality who is going to be a global star.
He starred in his debut in the Copa Libertadores last year, when he reached the final and was voted the revelation player. And he is repeating that form in the South American U-20 Championship with Brazil, where he is aiming for the MVP award, is the competition's top scorer with six goals in six games and is going for the Brazilian record set by Neymar Jr, who scored nine goals in the 2011 edition.
Barça are thinking of 'Tigrinho', as he is known in Brazil, to fill the space left by Memphis Depay and which has not been filled in the January window. In other words, to be the '9' complement to Robert Lewandowski and to be able to grow under the tutelage of one of the best centre forwards in contemporary football.
And this is a key element in the conception of this operation: to be alongside the Polish striker. Lewy has stamped his competitive stamp on the squad and is the reference player for the youngersters due to his leadership and professional behaviour.
There is no better example to follow for Vitor Roque, who has Cristiano Ronaldo as his idol, not because of his Madrid tastes, but because he occupies the same position and, fundamentally, because of the Portuguese's hard work in physical preparation throughout his career.
Tigrinho lives for football. Very religious, he knows that God has given him a talent that, if he knows how to manage it, will allow him to be one of the greatest strikers on the planet in the coming years. And nothing can distract him from the goal he has set himself, especially now that he knows that Barcelona have already made a move to sign him in the coming months.
One of the distinguishing features of the young striker is his voracity. He is a predator in the penalty area, hence the more than pertinent comparison that the Barça coaches make with Luis Suárez. One only has to go to YouTube to find videos of the Uruguayan in his youth at Nacional in Montevideo and later in Dutch football (first at Groningen and then at Ajax) to see the similarities between the two.
For the 'Vitor Roque operation' to be successful, it is essential to count on the collaboration of his agent, who is none other than André Cury, the former Barça executive in South America for more than a decade.