Premier League • England

Arsenal aiming to overturn Barcelona preference in race for striker whose value is only heading in one direction

Edier Ocampo and Vitor Roque

Arsenal remain among the many admirers for Athletico Paranaense striker Vitor Roque, but they will have to convince him to choose them over Barcelona.

That’s according to Mundo Deportivo, which has revealed that the in-demand Roque favours a move to Barcelona over any of his other suitors. Also in the race for the 18-year-old are West Ham, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Barcelona might struggle to meet the asking price for Roque. As things stand, Athletico Paranaense are asking for somewhere between €35million and €40m (£31m to £35.5m).

The report from Mundo Deportivo has made it clear that his current valuation “will not drop”. Therefore, it may be difficult to negotiate with his present employers.

For a club like Arsenal, though, a fee going towards £35m should still be affordable. Most importantly, they would have to decide that Roque is worth it.

So far, he has shown his potential by scoring eight goals from 38 appearances for his current club. Previously, he scored six times from 16 games in Cruzeiro colours.

Arsenal have explored the Brazilian market before, such as when they signed Gabriel Martinelli. The former Ituano talent has subsequently blossomed into a key player for Mikel Arteta’s table-topping team.

Now, Arsenal are considering the next stage in the evolution of their attack. They might want to add another centre-forward to compete with Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah.

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Vitor Roque ready to come to Europe

Despite being under contract with Athletico Paranaense until 2027, Roque has recently confessed he is ready to earn a European move in the summer.

He told Globo Esporte, when asked about changing continents: “Yes, definitely. I work for that, I’m focused on getting there as prepared as possible.”

As things stand, he would favour Barcelona as his next destination. If they struggle to fit a deal for him within their finances, though, he may have to consider alternative routes.

Therefore, there is still a decent chance of Roque ending up in the Premier League. His next takers could be either Arsenal – who should be able to offer him Champions League football at this rate – or West Ham.

West Ham have also been shopping in Brazil in recent years. Most recently, they signed promising defender Luizao from Sao Paulo, for example.

Roque clearly has a few attractive options worth considering if his Barcelona dream doesn’t come off. Only time will tell where he does end up if he is on the move this summer.

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