Charismatic, smiling and insightful, Vitor Roque, the ‘No 9’ sensation of South American football who is on his way to becoming a world star, opened the doors of his home in the city of Curitiba to SPORT. In a frank and objective conversation, he analysed the interest he is arousing at Barca, who have set him as one of the possible targets for next summer. Having just turned 18, ‘Tigrinho’ is still training hard at Ath Paranaense in the hope that negotiations with Barcelona will come to fruition in the coming weeks.
Do you feel ready for the challenge of making the leap to Europe and perhaps playing for Barça?
Yes, of course I do. I am working for this. The competitions I played in last year, the Libertadores and the Brasileirao, will help me to be well prepared when I go to Europe. I’m very happy to be 18 years old, which already allows me to go and play outside my country. My goal is to keep working with humility, because with faith in God everything will work out.
Barcelona have already called Ath Paranaense and expressed their interest in you, how do you deal with this situation?
Look, I try to stay focused on the day-to-day and give my best at Athletico. I’m sure that if I do well here, going to Europe will be a consequence.
What do you think when you go out to play every time knowing that you are being watched by the Blaugrana sports staff?
It’s a great motivation. It is very important and I see it as a reason to want to aspire to more, to want to work harder, which is what I do.
At 18 years old, just turned 18, you are already a Barça target for this summer — does it show that you are a different, special footballer?
I think so, but I have to be humble so that everything turns out well. That’s why I always talk about working and thanking God, which is what makes me different. Without work and without God none of this would be happening.
Barcelona would be an ideal destination considering the list of Brazilian stars who have already played there.
Yes, it’s a dream not only for me but also for any player who comes along. If I end up going to Barça, it will be a great joy for my family and for me… that’s why I have to keep working hard and hope that everything comes together in time.
The ‘9’ of this Barça team that is going for the double is Lewandowski, what is it that most attracts your attention?
When I watch him on TV I always notice his great finishing power, which I think is his strong point. He is spectacular and I followed him at Bayern Munich and now at Barcelona.
Would the scenario of having the chance to learn with him next season at Barcelona be ideal for you?
Yes, of course it would. If I had a player at my side at this level I would try to learn as much as I could. If that happens, it would be very important for my career. It would be a wonderful thing.
At Ath. Paranaense you became the revelation player of the Copa Libertadores. Can you have the same impact arriving at Barca?
That’s something I’ll only be able to see when I get there. If it’s necessary, of course I’ll have to have a period of adaptation, but in my mind I’ll always play to help my team.
How do you interpret the fact that Gavi and Pedri, two U-20 players like you, are two of Barça’s stars?
It is an added motivation to know that the club values, above all, the quality of the players.
Why is your generation already making a difference?
In my case, I can tell you that it is a direct consequence of my commitment and dedication in training and in matches. I am a footballer who always wants to improve.