Tough times often reveal your true character and Bayern Munich’s Marc Roca is showing exactly what he is made of. It has been a relatively difficult start to life in Bavaria for the Spaniard, one full of learning under quintuple-winning coach Hansi Flick. But the former-Espanyol man feels right at home in Munich.
“I am very happy to be here. It is a new experience and I really want to learn, improve and continue to grow. I can’t be in a better place, so I’m super happy,” Roca said in an interview with Spanish magazine MARCA.
The atmosphere created by German giants has always earned raving reviews from new signings (Don’t believe us? Just ask Philippe Coutinho). Despite being one of the star-studded teams in Europe, Roca sees his new colleagues as “nice people” and feels well received by Bayern and Hansi Flick’s crew.
“There are very good people and a lot of humanity,” the Spaniard replied to what surprised him the most at Säbener Straße. “They have welcomed me super well. From the outside you see it and think that being stars may be different from you, but they are great people.”
Great team performance last night! Time to focus on the next game and keep on improving!— Marc Roca Junqué (@marcroca21) November 26, 2020
Back in 2019, the Bavarians were already interested in the midfield orchestrator of Spain’s U21 Euro-winning side. The transfer ultimately failed to materialize due to the hefty €40 million release clause slapped by Espanyol.
“Last year it was already there, there the subject and this year the opportunity has been given. I think I will learn and grow,” Roca said.
Similarities can be drawn between Roca and World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard’s career path that led them to Munich — A title-winning campaign with the national team followed by relegation-ending season with club.
“Yes, of course,” affirmed the young midfielder, when asked if the wait was worthwhile. “If it ends up giving, it is when they want and everything is put in its place. I have the opportunity to train every day with these teammates, who are very good, and this coaching staff, who are helping me.”
After thrashing Atletico Madrid in a statement 4-0 win on Matchday 2 of UEFA Champions League group stage, the Bavarians now travel to Wanda Metropolitano without key players Robert Lewandowski and Leon Goretzka for the reverse fixture. Los Colchoneros were also reported to be in the running for Roca’s signature, but they never really submitted a formal or an informal bid for the highly coveted midfielder.
“There was a time when the option was close, but finally it did not happen and the opportunity to be here in Munich did come out,” - Roca answered, before reiterating his delight over joining reigning Champions League winners. “I’m very happy to be here, I don’t think I could be in a better place.”
Looking back, it also panned out nicely for Bayern. The treble winners were dealing with the loss of Thiago Alcantara and his departure to Liverpool created a vacant spot for a “midfield-specialist” in the squad. Once a man valued at €40 million, sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić was able to acquire Roca for a reportedly bargain price of €15 million; a player having just the profile Die Roten needed to replace maestro Thiago.
Reciprocating the expectations from fans, the midfielder also feels that his style of play suits well for Flick’s system.
“I think that Bayern is a perfect fit for me as a player profile. It is my style of soccer, a team that controls the games, that has possession of the ball, that has a very positive mentality. I hope to be here very well.”
The 24-year old although, has a long way to go before reaching the level of his predecessor and remains aware of the magnitude of responsibilities that comes with his position of a holding midfielder or #6.
When asked about what Flick expects from him, the youngster admitted that he needs to take his development to the next stage.
“It’s time to get in tune and get to work. I know that the position of 6 is delicate in any team and I am aware that I must evolve,” said Roca. “He (Flick) asks me to play fast, to position myself well and to be aggressive in stealing”.
Quizzed on whether learning German is tougher or scoring a goal against captain Manuel Neuer, Roca gave a befitting reply.
“Both things are difficult, but I think it’s harder to score a goal against Neuer,” said Roca. “We are talking about, for me, the best in the world.”
Roca officially in the Muller Mafia now!— Bavarian Football Works (@BavarianFBWorks) November 18, 2020
A new recruit! https://t.co/5D4cbze5wW
How Roca develops from here remains to be seen. But with his interviews, the latest #MullerMafia addition isn’t giving fans any reason to not like him.
In Marc we trust, it’s Roca-or-bust!