- Copy link
Vitor Roque has arrived at FC Barcelona. The 18-year-old is one of the most talked about rising talents in South American football, and although he still has a lot to prove, many believe that he could be one of the biggest names at the club for the next decade or so. If so, it would be nothing new at FC Barcelona, a club that has witnessed the boom of so many fabulous Brazilian strikers over the years.
Indeed, one of them, Raphinha, will be playing alongside him. Now into his second season, the former Leeds United player is doing Brazilian football proud in the blaugrana jersey. But looking back over the years, the legacy these two are continuing includes some of the finest players ever to ply their trade in the Catalan capital.
Six inspirational countrymen
Speaking in an interview shortly after arriving in Barcelona, Roque himself cited Neymar, Romario, Ronaldo Nazario and Ronaldinho as four of his greatest role models. He was caught a little on the spot, but given more time to think, he would surely have brought up the names of Rivaldo and Evaristo too.
It would be too much to say that Vitor Roque is expected to have the same impact as those six, although it is by no means out of the question. Indeed, all six had an immediate impact. Evaristo scored on his debut, Ronaldo scored twice and Romario got a hat-trick! Ronaldinho and Neymar found the net in their second games, and Rivaldo was the 'slowest', although it only took him three games before he was celebrating his first goal, and he went on to become the highest scoring of the lot.
The youngest of the aforesaid sextet to score was Ronaldo, in the Super Cup against Atlético Madrid when he was 19 years old. But Vitor Roque has just over a year to top that and become the youngest Brazilian goalscorer for Barça.
Straight from Brazil
He has much in common with Neymar, who also came straight from Brazil, albeit at the much older age of 21. Neymar won 12 major trophies at Barça between 2013 and 2017, but Roque is so young that one would hope he'll be able to top that tally. The other player who came to Barça with no other previous experience of European football was Evaristo, who was 24 when he arrived in 1957, and went on to score over 100 competitive goals for the team.
Ronaldo and Romario: Quick impact
It's going to be hard for Roque to have quite the same impact that Ronaldo Nazário had in his first (and only) year with Barça. In 1996/97, the Fenomeno's 47 goals in 49 games were like something out of a science fiction story. His time at Barça was almost as fleeting as that of Romario. It is amazing to think that one of the most memorable names in recent Barça history was actually only at the club for two seasons.
Rivaldo, goal machine
The 1990s ended with another great Brazilian forward gracing Camp Nou. Rivaldo arrived in 1997 as a direct replacement for his compatriot Ronaldo, and stayed for much longer, gathering 235 appearances and despite not being an out-and-out striker, he still contributed 130 goals, making him the joint sixth highest goalscorer in club history, tied with Samuel Eto'o.
Many will claim that the greatest Brazilian ever to play for Barça was Ronaldinho. When El Gaucho arrived, Barça were going through an uncharacteristically poor period, but by the time he left, they were regarded as one of the greatest teams the world had ever seen. It was his magic that helped totally transform the club as it entered a golden era, with more trophies being won both at home and abroad than ever before. From 2003 to 2008, Ronaldinho's smile and simply incredible ability on the ball was one of the main reasons why Barça came to be admired in every corner of the globe.
So there is a lot for Vitor Roque to live up to. Whether he too goes on to be mentioned in the same breath as all those Brazilian greats remains to be seen. But he should not view that as pressure. he should view it as inspiration.
Football is about to return after the festive break, and all eyes will be on Barça's new star. Could this be the beginning of a new era?
- Copy link