Thursday, October 6, 2022

Arsenal Locked In A Three-Way Battle For This La Liga Midfielder: What Will He Add To Arteta’s Side?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

According to a recent report by La Razon, Arsenal are locked in a three-way battle for Espanyol midfielder Marc Roca this summer. The same source has revealed that the Gunners could face competition from AC Milan and Everton in pursuit of the Spanish talent during the summer transfer window. It is believed that if Espanyol end up being relegated from the La Liga this season, then Roca could leave for a fee lower than his €40m cancellation clause (via La Razon).

Roca’s Excellent Form In Spain This Season

The 23-year-old has enjoyed a solid season at the RCDE Stadium following a run of commanding displays at the heart of Abelardo Fernández’s midfield. He has registered two goals and three assists in 33 appearances for the Barcelona-based club this term across all competitions which highlight his growing impact in the opposition half.

The Spaniard has also been quite consistent with regards to his all-round performances for Fernandez’s side at the centre of the park after averaging 2.4 tackles, 1.0 interceptions, 1.5 clearances, 1.0 shots, 0.8 key passes and 4.4 long balls per game in the Spanish top-flight this season. He also boasts a healthy pass success rate of 80.1% in league football so far (stats via whoscored).

Roca has represented the Spanish national team at the Under-21 level, having scored two goals in seven matches for them. However, he is yet to earn a senior cap for his country, so a high-profile move to the Emirates Stadium could give him a more prominent platform to showcase his talents that might help him catch the attention of Spain boss Luis Enrique ahead of next year’s UEFA European Championship finals.

Arsenal locked in a three-way battle for Marc Roca who is celebrating in the photo
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)

What Will The Spanish Midfield Ace Add To Mikel Arteta’s Side?

Roca lacks the pace and strength to make recovering runs at the back, but he more than makes up for it through his tireless work ethic. He excels at playing short, crisp passes in midfield and has the vision to create some decent goal-scoring chances going forward. The Spaniard is often quick to sense the danger and can pull off a few vital interceptions and last-gasp clearances for his side inside his own half.

A holding midfielder of Roca’s skillset will undeniably be a welcome addition to the Gunners squad before the start of the new campaign. He will not only offer more stability and variety to Arteta’s midfield but also enhance the overall quality of his first-team. Some might argue that Roca would be a significant upgrade over Granit Xhaka and Mattéo Guendouzi at the English capital. Plus, he could offer some healthy competition for the likes of Lucas Torreira and Joe Willock in the race to secure a regular midfield berth at the Emirates next season.

Roca ticks all the right boxes in terms of what Arteta expects from his midfielders, so his recruitment could prove to be a shrewd piece of business if Arsenal can pull off a deal this summer. At 23, he is only going to get better with each season which the Gunners could look to benefit from in the years to come.

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