Vitor Roque: A nightmare to defend with the potential to become the next Neymar

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Talents Calendar 

Record transfer, lawsuit, Copa Libertadores final, and World Cup hopes: it has been a turbulent 2022 for Vitor Roque in which the 17-year-old, despite everything, managed to focus on sporting aspects, seeing his star ascend in Brazil. Seleção legend Ronaldo praised the young striker as an immense talent, and the media has compared him to PSG star Neymar. “Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo are my role models; the two have inspired me,” Vitor Roque said in an interview with Globo Esporte. “Neymar because of his presence in Brazilian football and Cristiano Ronaldo because of his hard work, he is an extraordinary human who is never satisfied.” 

Born in Timóteo, a town located in the country’s interior in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, the striker emerged as a talent in 2021 as part of Cruzeiro. Playing for the U21 of the Belo Horizonte-based team, Vitor Roque scored 21 goals in 21 games across all competitions. He also won the Golden Boot in the state championship with 11 goals. Not surprisingly, Vitor Roque received a call-up to the first team in October 2021, making his debut aged 16 and seven months in the Série B for Cruzeiro. 

It was not always the case that Vitor Roque was considered a top talent. “When Roque first arrived at Cruzeiro, he was at the same level as all the other players,” former youth coach Mário Henrique said in an interview with Placar when asked what he saw in the talent when he first arrived from América FC in March 2019. He wasn’t in the starting XI during pre-season. Henrique asked Roque to work on his physical presence, intensity, and aggressiveness. 

Endrick in top 3 – The most valuable palyers in the Brazilian Série A

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Market value: €10m

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Vitor Roque (Athletico-PR)

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Gustavo Scarpa (Palmeiras)

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Raphael Veiga (Palmeiras)

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Everton Cebolinha (Flamengo)

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Pedrinho (Atlético Mineiro)

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Guilherme Arana (Atlético Mineiro)

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Mathias Zaracho (Atlético Mineiro)

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Yuri Alberto (Corinthians)

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Giorgian Arrascaeta (Flamengo)

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Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo)

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The positive development and six goals in 16 games for the first team soon caught the eyes of several first-division clubs. Last April, Vitor Roque joined CA Paranaense—a club that helped develop Renan Lodi and Bruno Guimarães—in a deal worth €4.7 million thanks to an exit clause. That deal made Vitor Roque the most expensive signing in club history ahead of Santiago García, who joined the club for €4m in 2011 from Club Nacional. An investment in the future that is likely going to pay off. 

Cruzeiro, in the meantime, were less than pleased with the transfer. “He left us overnight,” Ronaldo claimed in a statement pointing out that there were still positive talks with the talent about a potential contract renewal in March. The player side claimed that Ronaldo had abandoned them during the contract negotiations. Paranaense’s CEO, Alexandre Mattos, claimed that Ronaldo wanted a fee above the exit clause as only 45% of the fee went to Cruzeiro. “What I am seeing is incompetence, deletant behavior, and a need to justify it towards the fans,” Mattos said. “That’s about it. We said to him: ‘Ronaldo, we understand your needs, but it isn’t possible to pay more than the clause.’” Cruzeiro challenged the transfer in court to receive a bigger percentage of the deal without success. Former club América FC received 35% of the fee; another 10% went to the player’s camp.  

Moving 1000 kilometers south to Curitiba, Vitor Roque was almost unfazed by all the noise. After coming off the bench for the first few games, the young striker slowly established himself in Paranaense’s starting XI. “Vitor Roque’s ascendency is remarkable,” journalist and South America expert Johannes Skiba said. “His play did not only translate well to the top flight, but he was also able to develop it further. He benefited significantly from Luiz Felipe Scolari at Athletico. The head coach gave him a place in the starting XI and acted as a mentor. Vitor Roque has admitted that Scolari has been important for his career. “Thank god I fell into his hands; he has helped me and speaks to me all the time.” 

With the 2022 season concluded, the striker has scored seven goals and three assists in 36 games for Paranaense. The club also reached the final of the Copa Libertadores, where Athletico lost 0-1 to league rivals Flamengo. Vitor Roque played a significant role in his club reaching the final as he scored the winner coming off the bench in the quarterfinals against Estudiantes (1-0). He then provided two assists in the two legs against Palmeiras in the semifinal. As a result, Vitor Roque was one of the players nominated for the Copa Libertadores best player award. 

Talents-Calendar 2021: Where are they now?

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Hugo Félix

Chaka Traorè | Ivory Coast | Market value: –

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Mikayil Faye | Senegal | Market value: –

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Zum Porträt im Talentekalender 2021!

Julen Jon Guerrero | Spain | Market value: –

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Ajani Burchall | Bermuda | Market value: €100,000

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Liam Chipperfield | Switzerland | Market value: €500,000

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Samson Baidoo | Austria | Market value: €1m

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Samson Baidoo

Luka Romero | Argentina | Market value: €1m

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Cher Ndour | Italy | Market value: €1m

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Lucas Copado | Germany | Market value: €1m

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Abdoulaye Kamara | Guinea | Market value: €1m

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Abdoulaye Kamara

Emre Demir | Turkey | Marktwert: €1.8m

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Emre Demir

Daniel Samek | Czechia | Market value: €2m

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Daniel Sameks

Daniil Khudyakov | Russia | Market value: €2.5m

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Shola Shoretire | England | Market value: €4m

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Gabriel Slonina | USA | Market value: €8m

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Gabriel Slonina

Julio Enciso | Paraguay | Market value: €11m

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Momo Cho | France | Market value: €15m

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Momo Cho

Roméo Lavia | Belgium | Market value: €25m

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Roméo Lavias

“The combination of his dynamic, speed, and deadliness in the box make him a dangerous counter-attacking player,” Skiba said. “He has the confidence to get past stronger defenders. Vitor Roque’s ability to drive the ball is outstanding. He is a fun player to watch.” Transfermarkt Area Manager Brazil Marcos Watts added that the striker always scores at the right time. “He is very fast to the ball, very quick in the attack, very dynamic,” Watts said. “His physical abilities make it hard to man mark him, and his shot is a real nightmare for defenders.” 

Vitor Roque, however, has remained humble as well. “I am still very young, and I have to improve my game,” Vitor Roque said. “I must improve my finishing, and heading; everything needs to improve. I am still learning.” Nonetheless, Vitor Roque’s season has been impressive enough for national team boss Tite to nominate him for the provisional World Cup squad in Qatar. “I never spoke to Tite,” Vitor Roque said. I saw his comments about me, and I am very proud.” Internally, Paranaense do not doubt that he has the potential to become the club’s new record sale. The current record is held by Lodi, who was sold for €21.75m to Atlético Madrid. 

Paranaense hold all the cards as Vitor Roque is still under contract until May 2027. Unlike Cruzeiro, Athletico own 100% of the player’s rights. Despite the €100m exit clause, many European clubs are interested, and the list is getting longer and longer. Real Madrid, in particular, have been linked, and Los Blancos have sent scouts to watch the striker. 

“I want to achieve even more next season,” Roque Vitor said in an interview with Esporte News Mundo. “My goal is to grow and develop my game. I hope that 2023 will be a good year for us. I am happy for all the goals I have scored, that I was allowed to play in the Libertadores final and that I was nominated for the U20 national team. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the final, but it was a good year nonetheless, and we are back in the Copa Libertadores next year. All that makes me happy.”

From December 1 to 24, we introduce new players from different countries born in 2004. Area managers, users, and data scouts come into play as experts throughout the series. You can follow all those players by adding them to your TM watchlist.


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