How Vitor Roque fared on his Barcelona debut

  • Vitor Roque came off the bench against Las Palmas
  • Barcelona are seven points behind Real Madrid and Girona in La Liga
  • Brazilian had two good chances during cameo from the bench
Vitor Roque is Barcelona's latest star
Vitor Roque is Barcelona's latest star / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

Barcelona's season has not exactly gone to plan so far, but it is far from unsalvageable. The arrival of Vitor Roque has brought new optimism to the fan base, but now he needs to show why he is so highly rated.

Barcelona are currently third in La Liga and find themselves seven points behind both Real Madrid and Girona. It is not just the points gap that causes concern, it is that many of their wins have been by a narrow margin and in fortuitous circumstances, meaning it doesn't feel like sustainable form.

One clear problem in the team is the lack of depth behind Robert Lewandowski, but Roque's arrival in January from Athletico Paranaense gives Xavi Hernandez a new striker to bring off the bench and perhaps start in league games later in the season. He was signed in the summer but scheduled to join in the following summer, but Barcelona have moved his arrival date forward as he meets a need.

Now that he has his first appearance in the bag, albeit a short one, let's take a look at how he got on against Las Palmas.

Vitor Roque vs Las Palmas

Vitor Roque
Roque made his debut off the bench / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

We are working off just 13 minutes of action here because Roque replaced Ferran Torres in the 78th minute against Las Palmas on Thursday night, with the score at 1-1. The pressure was on straight away because both Real Madrid and Girona had won their games the night before.

Almost immediately, Roque showed an alertness to track a loose back pass from a Las Palmas defender but the goalkeeper managed to beat him to the ball, causing a collision.

Soon after, he actually ended up missing a really, really good chance. Joao Felix's clever little pass found Roque almost on the penalty spot and in space, but his first touch popped the ball up in the air. That meant by the time he could take his shot, the goalkeeper had begun to close in and he ended up putting the chance just wide of the post.

That one will have kept him up during the night as he really should have scored, but he was in the right area and still got his shot away despite the touch. The fact he came so close to scoring so soon into his Barcelona career is a positive in itself.

He didn't let it get him down in the moment, as he was very quickly part of a pack of players that pressed and won the ball back in the final third. He started driving towards two defenders, with options on either side of him. Clearly desperate to score after that previous miss, he took the wrong option and shot. It was deflected over the bar, but the player to his right was the correct pass.

He only had seven touches according to FBRef, but had three shots and one on target from those seven touches. He looked to have an intensity that Barcelona need, and was clearly getting in the right positions. The goals will come.

How much did Vitor Roque cost Barcelona?

Vitor Roque
Vitor Roque enjoyed his unveiling / David Ramos/GettyImages

Barcelona's deal for Roque was not a very simple one, as few of their deals seem to be these days.

The deal was made in July 2023, with the Brazilian expected to actually arrive in the summer of 2024. Overall, it is costing Barcelona just over €60m (£52m) in total. The reason for the arrival being delayed a year was spending restrictions.

Barcelona then managed to bring it forward to January, but then there were serious concerns that they would not be able to register him to play in La Liga games. Xavi expressed optimism when he spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon, with registration given the green light just a matter of hours later. That meant he could face Las Palmas.

Xavi seems confident that Roque and Lewandowski could actually play together.

"He can play with [Lewandowski] perfectly," the boss insisted. "He can play wide or as a number nine. He will generate competition for all the forwards in the squad - Lewandowski, Ferran, Joao [Felix], Raphinha and Lamine [Yamal] - which is a big positive.

"We will take things step by step with him. He is a kid aged 18, so we can't load him with responsibility now because he needs time to adapt. But he's ready [to play] and training well. He is professional and quickly adapting to his new surroundings, but we will be cautious."