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Endrick and Vitor Roque: What to expect from Real Madrid and Barcelona’s future Brazilian stars

From Ronaldo to Ronaldinho and from Roberto Carlos to Rivaldo, Real Madrid and Barcelona have a special history when it comes to Brazilian players — and two young strikers will be hoping to keep up that tradition when they make their moves to Spain in 2024.

Endrick and Vitor Roque have already signed for Madrid and Barca from Palmeiras and Athletico Paranaense respectively, but they cannot join them yet. Endrick has to wait until he turns 18 next July, while the champions are hoping to welcome the already 18-year-old Roque in January.

So who are these two La Liga-bound forwards, what can fans expect of them and how are Madrid and Barcelona keeping tabs on their progress far away in South America? The Athletic explains.



Inside the deal that saw Real Madrid win the race for Endrick, the Brazilian wonderkid

Endrick’s signing for Madrid, announced last December, was the latest in a long line of similar moves from the 14-time European champions: sign someone you see as a future top player before their price skyrockets, even if that means seemingly paying over the odds for such a young prospect.

Just as was the case for fellow Brazilians Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo or Turkish midfielder Arda Guler, Endrick chose Madrid over Barcelona and other suitors. The Catalans’ precarious financial situation did not help and personal talks with their head coach Xavi were not enough to convince him to move there.

Besides, Madrid had done plenty of groundwork before securing the teenager’s signature. Their influential head of recruitment, the Spanish-Brazilian Juni Calafat, made several visits to Sao Paulo to see Endrick in action for Palmeiras and to get to know the youngster and his family.

Vinicius Jr, who is represented by the same agency as Endrick, Rodrygo, Eder Militao and Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti, continued the charm offensive (as The Athletic reported, a meeting between Ancelotti and Endrick was organised by Madrid and Brazil legend Ronaldo). A deal was then struck after Madrid president Florentino Perez gave his approval.

Endrick was 16 at the time of the announcement, and the law does not allow players from elsewhere to move to Europe before the age of 18.

Just as with Vinicius Jr’s signing from Flamengo in 2017, Endrick has to wait until he turns that age next summer to join up with his new team. His birthday is on July 21, so one option being considered is that he arrives in the Spanish capital in time for the club’s 2024 pre-season tour, wherever that may be.

The law also does not allow contracts of more than three years for under-18 players, so Endrick’s deal only runs to 2027, but there is a gentleman’s pact with his camp to extend it until 2030. Reports suggested he would be paid €2million ($2.1m; £1.7m) net per season, although sources familiar with the situation — who, like the others cited in this article, wished to remain anonymous to protect their position — have told The Athletic the amount is higher than that and will rise season-on-season along with goal bonuses.

Palmeiras will receive €35million for Endrick and there is a further €25m in variables, some of which are associated with his development in Brazil over the coming months and others with his time in Europe.

Endrick celebrates a goal for Palmeiras (Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images)

In the 10 months since the deal was made official, Madrid have been even more attentive to Endrick than before. “They are always close, in person, because Juni (Calafat) and other people from the club travel to Brazil, or (speak) by phone,” a source close to the player said. “They talk to him, to the family, to the agents…”



Meet 15-year-old Endrick: 5ft 6in tall, left-footed and the next big thing in Brazilian football

There is also regular contact between Madrid and Palmeiras, helped by the good relationship between the clubs during the transfer negotiations. Both sides want what is best for Endrick, given the potential sporting and financial rewards on offer if he performs well.

This season’s edition of the Brazilian Serie A runs from April to early December, while the Copa Libertadores runs from February to November (although Palmeiras are out of the latter, South America’s equivalent to the Champions League, having been beaten by Boca Juniors of Argentina in the semi-finals at the start of this month). Endrick has scored eight goals and provided one assist in 43 club appearances across all competitions this season, having started 21 times.

Endrick vs Roque since moves were announced



Vitor Roque












Goals per game



Assists per game


The 17-year-old has mostly been used as a No 9 — which is where Madrid see him playing for them, despite being only 5ft 8in (173cm) — with a few appearances on both wings. “He’s very young and that’s why he’s always ready for new things, to try new things, even though he’s a striker,” sources in Brazil say.

Madrid will continue to monitor his progress, but the plan has always been for Endrick to join their first-team squad immediately when he arrives. Following Karim Benzema’s summer move to Saudi Arabia, the only recognised senior striker currently available to Ancelotti is Joselu, who signed on loan from Espanyol in June in a deal including an option to buy him next summer. Although the coaching staff and directors have been impressed by his professionalism and strong performances, Joselu will be 34 by then and his future is undecided.

And, despite him showing opposition to playing as a No 9, Madrid will also try again in 2024 to sign Kylian Mbappe. The forward stayed at Paris Saint-Germain this summer after giving up part of a bonus he was owed and without renewing his contract, meaning he could leave on a free transfer next summer — although a significant signing-on fee is expected to be necessary to secure his services.



Kylian Mbappe stays at PSG… for now: Meetings, bonus idea and what comes next

Endrick’s goalscoring stats this year may not be spectacular but he has already triggered bonuses Madrid agreed to pay in their deal with Palmeiras. Both Madrid and Endrick’s entourage expected him to be playing more this season, but they see this as a normal scenario for a player who only turned 17 three months ago.

Journalists have highlighted Endrick’s goalless streaks, which has led to the player becoming more withdrawn despite being “very powerful mentally”, according to those close to him. There has also been talk of the harsh treatment meted out to him by opponents — with one particularly brutal challenge from Corinthians midfielder Maycon last month — but this is not seen as a cause for concern by his camp.

The challenge by Maycon last month (Ricardo Moreira/Getty Images).

“There may be an injury or he may get injured, as with any player, but Endrick does a lot of preventive work, with training, physiotherapy, specific plans with a personal physio who comes to his house,” says a person with knowledge of the situation. “The toughness is not a concern because he is very prepared, he is very strong and has been working like that for years.”

Barcelona confirmed Roque’s signing last July — and a month later, Deco was finally announced as their new sporting director.



Barcelona’s new sporting ‘direction’ explained – confusion, questions, and Deco

Despite the time between those developments, from within the club, there is no doubt who was the main factor in Roque arriving from Athletico Paranaense. One club source told The Athletic the move was “the first signing of Deco’s era”.

Deco, the Brazil-born former Barcelona, Chelsea and Portugal midfielder, had long known about Roque’s talent. One of his most trusted associates in Brazil is the former national-team player Branco, who now works as a coordinator in the Brazilian FA’s youth ranks.

As soon as Branco became aware of Roque’s impressive performances, he told Deco to keep close tabs on him. But Deco did not just want Barca to sign the 18-year-old because of his potential — there was also a belief this was now or never for the Catalan side given their difficult financial situation.

Roque in action for Athletico Paranaense (Albari Rosa/AFP via Getty Images)

There are other reasons the signing made sense.

Their only recognised first-team striker, Robert Lewandowski, will turn 36 next summer, so the club need to start succession planning. Club sources also say that Roque’s willingness to sign for Barcelona and accept a potential delay before the actual move, given their problems with La Liga’s salary limits, made a difference.

That was one of the reasons Barca had been unable to sign Endrick before he joined their arch-rivals Madrid.

They had also monitored the Palmeiras youngster’s rise and were understood to be in fluid communication with his entourage after holding several meetings last year. But Barca told the player’s camp they would need to wait until 2023 to submit a concrete offer to Endrick, given their problems, and so they missed their chance.

Roque’s name began to do the rounds in international media outlets after Endrick broke through — and Barca may have seen signing him as a way of making up for their failed pursuit of the now Bernabeu-bound striker.

Even so, Roque’s statistics in recent years suggest they are getting a player of at least the same potential.

He has 20 goals and eight assists in 42 club games this year, and made his senior Brazil debut in March.

As part of the deal for Roque, worth €30million plus as much again in potential add-ons, Barca and Athletico Paranaense agreed that he would not join the La Liga champions until the January 2024 window. This meant the Brazilian club would be able to count on their young star until the end of what they hoped would be a long Copa Libertadores campaign, after losing the final last year — but as it happened they were knocked out in August’s round of 16 by Bolivian side Bolivar.

A lot has happened since then.

Rumours suggested Roque’s move to Barca could be brought forward, but this was quickly dismissed by the Catalan club. From the start of negotiations they had accepted that Roque could not join until January next year, and they had no intention of changing that.

It also helped Barcelona, who had struggled to register all of their players under their La Liga salary limit until the closing stages of the summer transfer window.

They are still not in a financial position to bring in Roque in January, but in recent weeks, Xavi’s coaching staff have been told by Deco himself that the plan is for the youngster to join the squad at the start of the new year. Barca’s new sporting director did not sound overly optimistic, however, when he travelled to Brazil during this month’s recent international break for family reasons — but also to check in on Roque.

“We want him to come, but let’s see what we can do,” Deco told Spanish sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo. “It’s not only down to the club’s effort, but also to the rules from La Liga that we have to follow.”

Roque himself addressed the issues around his potential arrival after this latest meeting with Deco. “Anything can happen in January, but if the signing is not completed I will remain calm with a positive mindset and focused on what I can do with Paranaense,” he said.

It was a key visit from Deco that made clear Barca’s plans for the teenager have not changed.



Deco was a key figure in Roque’s signing (Alex Caparros/Getty Images).

These recent weeks have not been easy for Roque, who suffered an ankle injury in September during a league win against Internacional. Barca feared the worst after watching TV footage of the challenge and quickly got in touch with Paranense’s medical services. Following checks and scans, it was determined Roque did not need surgery and would follow a conservative treatment programme instead. Even though the problem will keep him out for a few months, it was a better diagnosis than expected.

“If everything keeps progressing as it has been doing, I think I’ll play again for Paranaense before the end of the year,” Roque said earlier this month.

Whether Roque arrives in Catalonia in January or next summer, he too is expected to be part of the first team from the moment he lands.

There are no plans for him to begin with Barcelona Atletic — the B team, made up largely of youth players, who play in Spain’s third tier — as the club believe there is reasonable space for him to serve as Lewandowski’s backup in Xavi’s squad. It would also allow him to be mentored by the 144-cap Poland striker.

(Top photos: Getty Images)

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