Arsenal chief Edu sees £53m plan crushed as striker target picks Barca

Arsenal target Vitor Roque says he’s ready to complete a mega-money transfer to Barcelona as he detailed his ambition to learn from Robert Lewandowski. The 17-year-old Athletico Paranaense frontman recently finished joint top-goalscorer (six goals) at the South American Under-20 Championship as he helped Brazil win their 12th CONMEBOL Sudamericano Sub-20 title.

His fine performances have since caught the eye of the likes of Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea and Newcastle as the race for Roque’s services begins to intensify.

Arsenal sporting director Edu is understood to be a huge fan of the teenager and has already initiated basic conversations over a potential move.

But now in a major blow for the Gunners, Roque has publicly confessed that he would like to join Barcelona at the next available opportunity.

“I feel ready to make the move to Barcelona, of course. Would be amazing to play with Lewandowski,” the prolific young forward told Sport.

“Barcelona is a dream. If I end up there, it will be a great joy for my family and me. It’d be a fantastic move”.

Roque’s current club contract with Athletico Paranaense contains a release clause worth in the region of £53million – meaning he is unlikely to come cheap.

Former Brazil, Portugal and Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari is now working as a technical director at Athletico Paranaense and he is predicting a sale. He recently said: “Vitor will probably be sold.

“He’s 17 years old and has a lot to learn on the pitch. But he’s been playing in the Campeonato Brasileiro and the Copa Libertadores since he was 16.

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“He’s a 17-year-old boy with the brain and experience of a 24 or 25-year-old.

“He’s ready. When (a club) comes up with enough money, I think we will sell.”

Roque tied level with Chelsea starlet Andrey Santos on six goals after featuring in all eight of Brazil’s games at the CONMEBOL Sudamericano Sub-20 tournament.

The competition is notorious for unearthing the next generation of South American talent which is why scouts from Europe travel in their numbers.

Arsenal chief Edu remains well-connected with agents, representatives and clubs back home in Brazil and Roque is one of several players he is keeping tabs on.

The Gunners previously landed Gabriel Martinelli from Ituano for a fee of £6m in the summer of 2019 and he has since gone on to become an integral part of Mikel Arteta’s project.

It’s evidently given Arsenal encouragement that South America is a market where they can have even more joy in the future.

The Gunners currently have four Brazilians in their squad in the form of Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Magalhaes and Marquinhos (currently on loan at Norwich City).

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