Arsenal ‘leading the race’ to sign Espanyol midfielder Marc Roca

Arsenal have been linked with Espanyol’s Marc Roca over the past few months and fresh reports out of Spain and England suggest that the Gunners are the favourites in the race for his signature. 

Who is Marc Roca?

Marc Roca is a 23 year old central midfielder playing for Espanyol in La Liga. The Spaniard has primarily played as a deep lying midfielder. He likes to dictate the pace of the game and is known to start attacks from the base of Espanyol’s midfield by spraying the ball wide or playing quick one twos to bring more of his teammates into the game and stretch the opposition. Though primarily left footed, he is comfortable playing with both feet. Roca’s intelligence is considered to be his most valuable quality. 

He joined Espanyol’s youth setup in 2008 when he was 11 years old and made his first team debut in 2016. The young Spaniard has played just under 100 games for his boyhood club. 

He has a strong aerial presence and is an effective tackler capable of retrieving possession for his team.

Where would he play if he signed for Arsenal

Roca is what they call a ‘Regista’ in Italian football. He dictates the offensive play of the team as their deepest lying midfielder and effectively recycles possession. He is in the mould of Sergio Busquets at Barcelona or Jorginho at Chelsea. If he signed for Arsenal, he would likely compete with Granit Xhaka for a place in the team’s midfield. 

Why should Arsenal sign him?

At 23, Roca has shown maturity beyond his years and has the potential to develop into an imperious central midfielder. He plays a position not too different from the one Arsenal’s head coach, Mikel Arteta, played during his time at Arsenal. Both parties will believe there is much to be gained by working together.

Will Arsenal sign him?

Arsenal are known to be seriously interested in Thomas Partey and it remains to be seen how aggressive the Gunners plan to be in the transfer market this summer. Is it realistic to expect them to sign both Partey and Roca this summer? It is difficult to say. The Spanish newspaper, Sport, reported some time ago that contact had been established between both clubs and that the dialogue had been positive thus far. It is believed that Arsenal are waiting for the season to restart and for some clarity regarding the summer transfer window before deciding on whether to pursue this deal or not. 

Marc Roca has a £35 million buy-out clause but with Espanyol staring down the barrel of relegation and feeling the financial impact of the coronavirus, it is believed a deal can be reached for a lower fee. AC Milan and Everton are also reported to be interested in signing Roca. One suspects that if Arsenal were to make their interest concrete, they would be the club with the best chance of signing Roca this summer. 

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