After Marc Guiu became the latest teenage sensation to come onto the scene at Barcelona, Culers may be able to find some piece of mind in the shared weight of expectations on the next generation of Barcelona players. In recent seasons, Ansu Fati and Pedri paved the way for Gavi and Alejandro Balde, who are paving the way for Lamine Yamal and Fermin Lopez. Then there’s Marc Guiu, Pau Cubarsi, Hector Fort, Aleix Garrido, and any combination of Mikayil Faye, Marc Bernal, Pau Prim, Unai Hernandez, or Marc Casado. While Lamine Yamal gets the most attention, the pressure of being the new breakout star is to some extent being shared in ways that it hasn’t since the days of Marc Bartra, Marc Muniesa, and Martin Montoya. A time that Xavi likely remembers well.
That is the advantage the players from La Masia have over any other players coming into the club from elsewhere (yes, I know Pedri and Mikayil are the exceptions to that list); they are prepared for this moment by living in that pressure and that dream every day. It’s expected in January that Vitor Roque will join the ranks of Barcelona’s teenage brigade, but the pressure on him will be quite different.
Unlike all the names already mentioned, Vitor Roque has a price tag attached to his name. €40m with rising variables and a €500m release clause. The good news is that similar to Pedri, Vitor Roque will more than make up for the additional cost of variables if he’s hitting those variables, so the cost should be treated as €40m.
More than the price tag however is the pressure that follows him simply due to where he was born. In Brazil, there are the obvious cliches about the role that football plays in the average person’s daily life. They says it’s a religion. But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, it was a teenager, Pelé, if you’ve heard of him, that changed all that. For better or worse, he cast a shadow for generations and generations that doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter. For more on Pelé’s story, check out Pelé: Birth of a Legend by Seine Pictures: tbpod.link/pele OR Pelé: Birth of a Legend on Apple OR Pelé: Birth of a Legend on Amazon.
It’s not just Pelé when we’re speaking about Barcelona though. When Brazilian forwards are bought and not named Keirrison, they almost always deliver. Evaristo to Romario to Ronaldo to Rivaldo to Ronaldinho to Neymar. Six players that will go down in history as some of the best of their eras. Even the likes of Sonny Anderson, Malcom, and Raphinha had a role to play, but they weren’t brought in with the same expectations and fanfare as the others I mentioned. Coming right from Athletico Paranaense at 18, Vitor Roque will have some big Brazilian expectations on his shoulders. Fortunately for him, the shield of Robert Lewandowski will protect him from needing to be the central figure for the Barcelona attack for at least six months and likely another season. The added benefit of all the other teenagers, especially the unrivaled potential of Lamine Yamal, should more evenly distribute that pressure.
As for who might be next, social media and Mundo Deportivo are already looking beyond Vitor Roque to Estevão Willian, the 16-year-old winger from Palmeiras who shares the same agent, Andre Cury.
In the recent interview the boy nicknamed ‘Messinho’ did with Mundo Deportivo, he professed his love of the Blaugrana and the desire he has to play for them one day. The hope would be that the outrageous pressure of the nickname Messinho would cancel out the outrageous pressure of being a 16-year-old Brazilian prodigy. But unlike Vitor Roque, who is already 18, the one thing Estevão Willian should have on his side is time. Like Palmeiras teammate Endrick, he can sign a deal with a European club now, but he can’t make the move to Europe until he’s 18. So the soonest Barcelona will have to pay for his services and the first time he’s allowed to be registered would be after his 18th birthday in April of 2025. Any Culer dreaming of seeing him in a Barcelona shirt can sprinkle their expectations for him across the next year and a half, especially if the rumors and links pick up steam in the next year. The last question to answer – why would Barça go for Messinho when they already have the other 16-year-old right winger of the future in Lamine Yamal? That’s not a question I’m too concerned with; if you can bring in future stars you bring in future stars. It’s on the manager to make it all work.