Premier League • England

Arsenal plot unbelievable hijack of Barcelona signing, with star’s camp in London ahead of potential talks

Vitor Roque of Brazil

Arsenal remain in the race to sign Vitor Roque from Brazilian side Athletico Paranaense, despite Barcelona being the striker’s favoured destination, according to a report.

Roque is only 18 years old but is already making a name for himself in South America. Last season, he registered 14 goals and five assists in 52 games across all competitions. He has improved on that form this term, finding the back of the net three times in just four appearances.

Roque’s goals have resulted in him becoming a part of the Brazil national team setup. After helping Brazil win the U20 South American Championship in February, the teenage goalscorer has since forced his way into Brazil’s senior squad.

He made his debut against Morocco on Saturday, coming off the bench for 25 minutes as the game ended 2-1 in Morocco’s favour.

Roque is not just impressing Brazil coaches, he is also delighting scouts from major European clubs. Manchester United and West Ham were linked with him before Arsenal really began to push for his signature.

On February 15, it emerged that Mikel Arteta had ‘endorsed’ an Arsenal move for the attacker. However, Mundo Deportivo then reported that Roque had decided on a switch to Barca instead.

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Fellow Spanish source Sport have now provided an update on the situation. They reiterate the fact that Barca are leading the transfer race, but the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea cannot be discounted yet.

Arsenal in particular are trying hard to bring Roque to the Emirates. They believe he could learn from compatriot Gabriel Jesus before becoming Arsenal’s first-choice centre-forward at some point in the future.

Arsenal aiming to win race for Vitor Roque 

While Barca have the glamour and pulling power, there are two factors that could result in Roque heading to north London instead. The first is that Arsenal are in a better financial position than Xavi’s side and can therefore offer Athletico Paranaense more money. This means the Gunners should find it far easier to reach a transfer agreement.

The second is that Arsenal sit top of the Premier League table and are showing real signs that they are back at the summit of English football for good. Arteta is doing a great job and there is a good chance Roque will want to be part of the action.

In a major boost for Arsenal fans, it seems Roque’s father could also be in the UK for talks with sporting director Edu, as well as club chiefs at Chelsea. He has posted a picture of himself in London.

It must be noted that Roque’s camp are also planning to hold meetings with Barca and Paris Saint-Germain, with the French side in the mix to complete a deal too.

But it is certainly good news for Arsenal that they remain in the hunt for Roque and could yet steal him from Barca’s grasp.

Meanwhile, Arteta will be delighted after hearing that an Arsenal transfer target is ‘proud’ to be linked with them, while he is also studying English.