Bayern Munich was first linked with Marc Roca back in 2019, although he remains a relatively unknown name for Bundesliga supporters. With no international caps and only a small amount of European cup competition experience with Espanyol, what the 23-year-old Roca will bring to the table at Munich remains to be seen.
What is known is that he is a highly regarded defensive midfielder, one that Espanyol was very reluctant to sell last summer, even though the reported transfer figure in 2019 was much higher than what is being reported now in 2020.
I decided to have a Q&A with Marcus Bring, a fellow Swedish international with a kick-ass name who frequently writes and blogs about Spanish football, to find out more what type of player Marc Roca is. If you have Twitter, I suggest you give Marcus a follow (@MarcusBr22) if you are interested in keeping up to date with La Liga football.
1. Describe for the Bundesliga fans who have not watched a lot of Espanyol or La Liga, how is Marc Roca as a player?
Marc Roca is a traditional deep-lying playmaker who thrives on the ball. A specialist in progressive passing who constantly looks for creative solutions. No coincidence that he constantly was among the top players in La Liga in terms of getting the ball into the final third, a clear Thiago Alcantara replacement in that sense.
2. While recognizing the tough competition in the Spanish national team side, is there a reason why a 23-year-old Marc Roca has not made his Spanish national team debut?
You said it yourself really, the competition IS the sole reason. Any other national team in the world and he would’ve been a regular at this point. But when your competition is Busquets, Thiago, Saul, Koke, Rodri, Fabian Ruiz, and so on there’s tough to take a spot. And while he is very good, he isn’t better than any of them. Yet. But with time, he’ll get there. No doubt. In the meantime, he was an influential player for Spain’s U21 team who won the Euros in 2019.
3. He’s been an undisputed starter for Espanyol for two seasons. In 2018-19 the team managed to reach Europe, last season they got relegated after a last-place finish, do you think that moving to Bayern Munich is too big of a move for Roca?
He’s ready, although he might need some time to adapt. The tempo and the way the game is played differs slightly in Bundesliga compared to La Liga but he’s a calm guy with the head at the right place so he’ll be fine. His footballing qualities are undeniable and there’s no coincidence that big clubs have been after him for years. At 23, soon to be 24, the time is here.
4. The fee is expected to be between 10 and 15 million euros, relatively low most likely due to Espanyol’s relegation. Do you think this deal is a bargain for Bayern?
Definitely a bargain. During normal circumstances, he would cost twice as much at the very least, and even if he doesn’t make it at Bayern his reputation and age make it easy to flip him for a solid fee in a few years. Win-win.
5. How would he fit into the current Bayern squad with Kimmich as a deep-lying playmaker, Goretzka as the box-to-box midfielder and defensive duties shared almost equally between the two. Would Roca be a direct Kimmich-like a playmaker or can he take the pure destroyer mantle and give us a variety Bayern’s midfield combos?
As I said in the beginning, he excels on the ball and is a brilliant playmaker and progressive passer. My thoughts on Kimmich is that he’s a more well-rounded midfielder than Marc Roca but not at the same level in terms of playmaking. Goretzka on the other hand is a completely different kind of midfielder who has the legs and athleticism Marc Roca lacks. So, I’d say they complement each other quite well. I wouldn’t expect him to be a huge addition in terms of ball-winning but he has certainly taken steps in that department over the years.