Thursday, October 6, 2022

Arsenal Negotiating A Move For La Liga Starlet: An Ideal Replacement For Dani Ceballos?

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Jack O’Brien
A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.

According to Sport, Arsenal are in talks with Espanyol regarding the potential transfer of Marc Roca. The midfielder is expected to leave the Catalan outfit, which like many other small clubs in Europe, are facing a financial crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic. As a result, they might be forced to sell Roca in the upcoming summer transfer window.

Marc Roca: Player profile

A product of the Espanyol youth academy, Roca has been a part of the first-team since 2016. But despite making 25 appearances during the 2016/17 campaign, it wasn’t until the 2018/19 season that he truly became a regular first-team member of the starting lineup.

Roca has now made over 100 competitive appearances for Espanyol, 24 of which have come in La Liga this season. He has scored two goals and provided one assist. But, this hasn’t helped the club, who are still dawdling at the rock bottom of the league table.

That being said, Roca’s performances have still caught a lot of attention. The midfielder has notably attempted a whopping 90 tackles this season – a tally only bettered by defender Victor Sanchez (101). He has also averaged one interception and 1.5 clearances per game.

The Spaniard is not quite efficient in the air however, attaining a success rate of only 37% in terms of headed duels. But, he has delivered 19 key passes, which is third highest in the Espanyol side this season.

BARCELONA, SPAIN – JANUARY 04: Marc Roca of Espanyol celebrates following the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and FC Barcelona at RCDE Stadium on January 04, 2020, in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Is Roca the ideal replacement for Dani Ceballos?

As evident from his statistics, Roca is a different kind of player when compared to Dani Ceballos. The Espanyol star is a fully-fledged holding midfielder. He is more focused on the defensive side of the game, providing additional cover for the backline and clearing out any loose balls in the middle of the park.

Ceballos, in that regard, likes to attack the opposition instead. The Real Madrid star is a better passer of the ball while he can also carry the ball around half-spaces, making the transition much more comfortable. It is a reason why the Spaniard is also comfortable when deployed as a number ten.

Why Arsenal must sign Roca

Even though Roca is not exactly a direct replacement for Ceballos, his potential addition to the Arsenal squad could be appreciated by the fans as well as Mikel Arteta himself.

This is primarily because the club has lacked the presence of a reliable holding midfielder for quite some time. Granit Xhaka has shown a lot of promise under Arteta. But, the Swiss international cannot be trusted as the lone option. And Roca, in that regard, should provide the Arsenal boss with an additional option in midfield.

Arteta could even deploy Xhaka alongside the 23-year-old. Both the players are focused on the defensive side of the game, and therefore, the combination could provide a lot of solidity in the double-pivot.

Stat courtesy: Whoscored

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