Xavi addresses Vitor Roque's lack of playing time after agent threat

  • Vitor Roque has been an unused substitute recently
  • Brazilian striker joined Barcelona during the winter window
  • €61m deal was previously struck in the summer of 2023
Vitor Roque has not featured for Barcelona for several weeks
Vitor Roque has not featured for Barcelona for several weeks / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

Xavi has admitted that it was not the plan for Vitor Roque to join Barcelona when he did in winter, having opted against using the Brazilian striker for the past month.

The Roque deal struck with Athletico Paranaense could eventually total €61m, a €30m fixed fee plus €31m in add-ons. But his first few months in Spain have been underwhelming.

The transfer was agreed in the summer of 2023 with the intention that Roque might link up with the Catalans a year later. But that date was brought forward midway through this season.

"The intention was not for Vitor Roque to come in December," Xavi explained to reporters.

"The plan was for him to stay [in Brazil] and continue growing. The option opened up with the injuries of Gavi and [Alejandro] Balde."

Roque scored in successive substitute appearances against Osasuna and Alaves within a few weeks of his arrival. But he has also started just twice in all competitions, didn't feature at all in the Champions League and has been an unused substitute in Barca's last four La Liga fixtures.

Vitor Roque
Roque's absence has caused his agent to speak out / Fran Santiago/GettyImages

But while Roque could have stayed in Brazil, where he scored 21 times for Athletico across all competitions in 2023, Barca considered it better to have him at least training with them even if actual game time was going to be rather limited.

"For his training, we believed it was the best," the coach explained.

"There is a debate that, for me, makes no sense. He is a player in training. There are footballers who are ahead of him, that's how I understand it. He has spent his whole life with young footballers," Xavi added, referencing Roque's lack of overall senior experience.

But being left in the shadows hasn't been well received by the player's camp.

Andre Cury represents Roque and, earlier this month, threatened to find his client a new club if more playing time isn't made available.

"Either the player stays to be given minutes to prove himself or, if the club decides that he cannot stay, he is going to be sold. There are interested teams, many of them," he warned.