Barcelona no longer prioritising Vitor Roque signing for January as part of strategy shift

Barcelona will no longer try to advance the signing of Vitor Roque to January, as originally planned, instead waiting until the summer to complete the deal for the 18-year-old.

The Blaugrana agreed a deal with Athletico Paranaense last summer for €30m plus €31m to sign Roque to a seven-year contract. In their announcement, they noted that he would join in July of 2024 at the latest, but had briefed privately that they would sign him in January.

However Relevo say that this is no longer the case. His ankle injury combined with their tight finances mean that Barcelona have decided to reconsider bringing him in this January – they had also told Roque that this would be the case.

The 18-year-old injured his ankle just under two months ago, and is recovering on schedule to be fit for the start of December, but an internal source said it would be ‘sporting suicide’ to bring him straight into Barcelona action after that injury.

The pressure would be on Roque to make an impact without having played regularly for several months at that point, as well as adapting to a new country for the first time. Instead he will have the chance to have a preseason with Athletico PR. This would be an added obstacle to an already tricky adaptation.

They do note that manager Xavi Hernandez was pushing for Roque to come in January. He is of the opinion that Roque could be crucial in the second half of the season, bringing goals, and a natural number nine alternative to Robert Lewandowski. As it is, Lewandowski is unlikely to see too much rest, with Ferran Torres the likely option to do so.

The second factor, and perhaps the most important, is their lack of space in their salary limit. The Blaugrana are €130m over their limit, and would have to work hard to save enough money, and bring in enough income, to be able to register Roque this January.

At any rate, it was dependent on Libero paying the €40m they owe Barcelona for 9.8% of Barca Studios, which Barcelona fear they will not do so. They say the final payment deadline is the 15th of December, but this deadline has been reported as being set in August, October, November and now December over the course of the months.

The report goes on to say that if they do manage to bring in the Libero money, then they will prioritise a move for a central midfielder ahead of Roque or another forward. Oriol Romeu is the only natural holding midfielder in the squad, and being more of a depth option rather than starting quality at the time of writing, this has stood out as a problem for Xavi.