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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Dan Marsh

Barcelona make 'first move' to sign wonderkid, 17, dubbed 'next Luis Suarez'

Barcelona have reportedly stepped up their efforts to snap up Vitor Roque: a Brazilian wonderkid who has been dubbed as the 'next Luis Suarez '.

The highly-rated 17-year-old has already caught the eye of several European heavyweights after starring for Athletico Paranaense at the Copa Libertadores last season and has also been featuring for Brazil's U20 side at the South American U20's Championship.

Roque, who is unable to leave Brazil until he turns 18 later this month, has already been likened to Suarez, who was a big favourite at the Nou Camp during his stint with the Spanish giants. And it has now been revealed that Barcelona are hoping to pip a host of other interested parties to a deal for Roque.

According to SPORT, the LaLiga leaders have opened negotiations with Athletico Paranaense over a summer deal for Roque, who they believe is already capable of providing cover for first-choice striker Robert Lewandowski.

The Spanish giants also view Roque - whose predatory instincts in the penalty area have been lauded by coaches - as Lewandowski's long-term successor and feel he would benefit greatly by learning from the veteran forward, who has made a significant impact since arriving in Spain from Bayern Munich in the summer.

Barcelona have already made contact with former Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who is currently on the books at Athletico Paranaense, and CEO Alexandre Mattos over a summer deal for the talented teenager. Recent reports have claimed to Roque already has a £52.8million release clause written into his contract and that the youngster favours a move to the Nou Camp.

Join the debate! Do you think Barcelona will win the race for Roque? Let us know here.

Roque has already been compared to former Barcelona favourite Luis Suarez (Silvio Avila/AFP)

The likes of Chelsea and Manchester United have also been credited with an interest in Roque in recent weeks. The former, in particular, have garnered a reputation for hoovering up some of the brightest youngsters in the game and concluded a deal for another of Brazil's top prospects, Andrey Santos, in January.

Comparisons to Suarez, who thrived in the Premier League with Liverpool before moving to Spain, will only make Roque more attractive to Barcelona.

Suarez, now 36 and on the books at Gremio, plundered 198 goals in just 298 games for Barcelona playing alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar. The Uruguay international enjoyed plenty of success during his spell at the Nou Camp: including four league titles, four Copa del Rey's and a Champions League triumph.

Now managed by former midfield star Xavi Hernandez, Barcelona are on the rise again after a difficult couple of years. Financial issues have plagued the Spanish giants, but Xavi has guided them to the summit of LaLiga, where they currently sit eight points ahead of defending champions and bitter rivals Real Madrid.

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