Athletico Paranaense bid farewell to 18-year-old striker Vitor Roque on Sunday night, as he played his final home match for the club at Arena da Baixada, in a 3-0 win over Santos. Roque played 85 minutes before coming off to an ovation from the crowd.
Roque will move to Barcelona in January in a deal worth €30m plus €31m in variables, having returned recently from an ankle ligament injury. It was his first start since being injured in September. Athletico PR have one final away game to Cuiaba, which they will hope to win and move ahead of Fluminense into 7th.
After the match, Roque spoke to the club media, and thanked the fans for their support during his two seasons there. Their number nine has scored 28 goals and given 11 assists in his 81 appearances, but 29 of those goal contributions came this season.
“I am very happy for everything that is happening in my life. My dream was always to play in Europe and to be able to do it in a club of the greatness of Barcelona, where so many Brazilians have triumphed.”
On Sunday night, Barcelona-bound Vitor Roque said farewell to Athletico Paranaense.
He played his final game at Arena da Baixada in a 3-0 win over Santos.pic.twitter.com/CaJTxKEJ8S
— Football España (@footballespana_) December 4, 2023
In terms of what is ahead for Roque in Bsrcelona, he said he was working on the mental side of the game.
“I try to work my head in the best possible way to be able to arrive at Barcelona with great humility. What I have to do now is continue working with humility, this is the key to success, if I do it I am sure that things will turn out well at Barca,” Sport recounted Roque’s words.
— Athletico Paranaense (@AthleticoPR) December 4, 2023
And promised that Barcelona would get a hard-working forward for the second half of the season.
“I hope to arrive prepared for the challenge of playing for Barca, I have worked all year here in Brazil thinking about this moment, how I would get to Barcelona. My philosophy is always to work, work and work… and always want more, it is what I have done here in Brazil and what I plan to continue applying at Barca.”
At just 18, it will be difficult to prevent expectations inflating around Roque when he begins his life in Barcelona. Equally, he could play a crucial role for the Blaugrana. With Robert Lewandowski struggling this season, and without a natural replacement, he has been rarely rested. At 35 years of age, this no doubt is weighing on his performance too.