Xavi sends warning to Robert Lewandowski after Vitor Roque arrival

  • Barcelona have registered Roque with La Liga after handing him the number 19 shirt
  • Teenage striker joins from Athletico Paranaense for an initial €30m
  • Lewandowski has faced criticism for underwhelming form in recent weeks
Xavi is braced for a tough call on Lewandowski
Xavi is braced for a tough call on Lewandowski / JOHN THYS/GettyImages

Barcelona manager Xavi has warned Robert Lewandowski that he is prepared to drop the Poland international in favour of Vitor Roque if the youngster deserves more minutes.

Roque has officially been registered with La Liga after completing his move from Athletico Paranaense this month, and joins at a time in which Lewandowski has been criticised for some below-par performances.

While Lewandowski does have a respectable nine goals in 21 games, he has scored in just two matches since the end of September and fans have voiced concerns over the 35-year-old's role in the team.

Xavi hopes to see Lewandowski work alongside 18-year-old Roque, but warned the veteran that he will not get any special treatment if his performances do not merit minutes.

"[Benching a big name] has already happened, I’ve already done it," Xavi told the press. "I cannot treat one footballer differently than another, otherwise the group will not work well.

"If players are on the pitch, it’s because I believe they can help. The example is the last match between the two halves. We’re not talking about anything new here."

Vitor Roque
Barcelona have high hopes for Roque / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

Most of Roque's experience so far in his young career has come as a central striker, but Xavi is prepared to deploy the youngster in a number of different positions to try and help him work alongside Lewandowski.

"Vitor can adapt to any position in the attack, he can play out wide or as a nine," Xavi added.

Regardless of Lewandowski's recent form struggles, Barcelona are undeniably planning for a future without the Poland international, who turned 35 in August but remains under contract until the summer of 2026.

Midfielder Pedri acknowledged Lewandowski's passage to the twilight stage of his career recently as he admitted he'd like to see Barcelona sign Manchester City's Erling Haaland as a long-term replacement.