New Barcelona signing Vitor Roque can play alongside Robert Lewandowski in the Brazilian striker's potential debut against Las Palmas on Thursday, coach Xavi Hernández said.

Roque, 18, joined Barça from Club Athletico Paranaense last week in a deal worth an initial €30 million ($32m) with €31m ($34m) more due in possible add-ons.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Xavi has been impressed with his first glimpse of Roque and hopes to have the forward registered with LaLiga in time to face Las Palmas as the Spanish league resumes after a short Christmas break.

"[Roque] will be in the squad and hopefully he is [registered], which I imagine is just a question of hours now," Xavi said in a pre-game news conference.

"We will take things step by step with him. He is a kid aged 18, so we can't load him with responsibility now because he needs time to adapt. But he's ready [to play] and training well. He is professional and quickly adapting to his new surroundings, but we will be cautious.

Vitor Roque scored 28 goals in 81 games for Paranaense . Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

"He can play with [Lewandowski] perfectly. He can play wide or as a No.9. He will generate competition for all the forwards in the squad -- Lewandowski, Ferran [Torres], João [Félix], Raphinha and Lamine [Yamal] -- which is a big positive."

Roque scored 28 goals in 81 appearances for Athletico Paranaense but this is his first move outside of his native Brazil and Barça are aware he will need help settling in Spain.

"We have [football coordinator] Bojan [Krkić] helping him adapt," Xavi explained. "Raphinha has also stepped up as a guide as a fellow Brazilian, while [Ronald] Araújo also speaks Portuguese.

"He's young, but we're going to help him. We are having video sessions showing him exactly what we want from him in attack and defence. It's going really well."

Barça begin 2024 seven points behind joint leaders Real Madrid and Girona, which accelerated the need to bring in Roque in January rather than wait until the summer.

The Catalan club have also revealed their intention to sign a midfielder this month after losing Gavi to injury for the rest of the season. Girona's Aleix García is one of the targets.

"Yes, I said [I like García], but I have not spoken with him or with any other player," Xavi added of his desire to bring in more signings.

"I don't know if we can sign another player. We are assessing the financial fair play side of things and seeing what the club can do. I am in permanent contact with the president [Joan Laporta] and [sporting director] Deco, so let's see."

Barça's standards at both ends of the pitch have fallen this season in respect to last year, when they won LaLiga for the first time since 2019.

They have already conceded more goals (21) than across the entire 2022-23 campaign (20) in 20 fewer games and are underperforming their xG at the other end of the pitch by -7.38 (34 goals from an xG of 41.38).

That is a high across Europe's top five leagues, but Xavi is more concerned by his team's defending.

"The defence," Xavi said when asked what worries him most.

"Last year we were outstanding at the back and this year we are giving away a lot. We usually score goals. And there are games where we've scored two or three times and not won the match."

Barça's opponents this week Las Palmas have exceeded expectations on their return to the top flight. They have won seven of their 18 games and sit 10th in the table, with Xavi labeling them the "revelation of the season except for Girona."

They are managed by García Pimienta, who was sacked as Barça B coach in 2021 by Laporta after spending 15 years at the Catalan club in various roles.

"I have not had contact with him since, but I have to thank him because I am here now because of his decision," García Pimienta said of his relationship with Laporta ahead of his first meeting with his former club.

"We will never know what would have happened [if I stayed]. Six months after leaving Barça, I had the chance to come to Las Palmas. It has been an unbeatable story since. I feel loved here, this is the ideal place for me."