Sports Director of Athletico Paranaense rules out Vitor Roque leaving for Barcelona this summer

Barcelona’s hope of securing the signing of Vitor Roque before the end of August lasted all of 24 hours. Following the elimination of Athletico Paranaense from the Copa Libertadores, it was reported that Barca management had opened negotiations with Athletico Paranaense to try and bring the Brazilian striker to Spain this month.

However, that idea was immediately shot down by Athletico Paranaense Sporting Director Alexandre Mattos who said:

“He will go in January, which was the agreement we made with Barça and we are going to respect it.”

The reason Athletico are reluctant to lose their star striker is based on their goal of reaching next season’s Copa Libertadores, and with 20 games to go Paranaense aren’t guaranteed anything with their league form stuttering.

After 18 games, the Brazilian club are sitting 7th in the Brazilian Serie A, just outside the Copa Libertadores qualification places. If the season were to finish today, they’d qualify for the Copa Sudamericana group stage, the South American equivalent of the Europa League.

Despite the team’s form suffering a little this season, Barcelona-bound Roque has been outstanding. He’s found the net 12 times already this season in 25 games and is on course to bag 20+ for the first time in his career.

A blow to Barcelona’s hopes this summer

Vitor Roque arriving in January has always been the most likely outcome. The Brazilian league finishes in December, so it’s a nice clean-cut for the South American team.

The transfer window in Brazil is also closed, so if they allowed Roque to join Barcelona now, they’d be unable to replace him with anyone outside the club.

For Barca, it’s a blow considering they weren’t expecting to lose Ousmane Dembele, who is in Paris to complete his transfer to the French champions this week.

Fortunately for Xavi, he has a number of promising young forwards to call on. Lamine Yamal showed that he was ready for a bigger role with his scintillating cameo against Tottenham. Ansu Fati looks like the Fati of old and even Ferran Torres is scoring goals for fun. Not to mention exciting young Moroccan talent Abde.

If Barcelona can’t bring reinforcements in the forward position this summer, my gut says they’ll be just fine.