Vitor Roque to join Barça in January - Athletico PR

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Athletico-PR said Saturday that Brazilian forward Vitor Roque will join Spanish giants Barcelona in January, with the 18-year-old set to play his last home game against Santos on Sunday before heading to Europe.

Barça reached an agreement to sign Roque from Athletico in July for a fee of €40 million ($43.6m), with the player inking a seven-year contract.

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Barcelona's financial struggles and their inability to comply with LaLiga's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules have hampered the club's ability to register new signings over the last two seasons, and Roque's status is also unclear.

The Spanish champions initially said Roque would move to the club ahead of the 2024-25 season but are now keen to bring him in next month.

"It would be good for the team to bring Vitor Roque in January, but we have to see how it all works out. It's still too soon [to say," Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said earlier on Saturday.

The club have lost midfielder Gavi to a long-term knee injury and adding Roque in January would give Barça much-needed depth behind 36-year-old forward Robert Lewandowski.

Roque, who was sidelined for two months due to an ankle injury, returned to action last weekend playing 26 minutes in a goalless draw against Vasco. On Friday against Cruzeiro he played for 45 minutes and scored his first goal since September.

A product of the same Cruzeiro academy from which former great Ronaldo Nazario emerged, Roque joined Athletico at the start of 2022 and has scored 28 goals in 80 appearances. Last year he helped them reach the Copa Libertadores final.

He earned his first cap for Brazil in March, becoming at 18 years and 25 days the youngest debutant for the five-time world champions since a 17-year-old Ronaldo played for the first time with Brazil in 1994.

Reuters contributed to this report.