Marc Roca was confirmed as Leeds United’s third summer signing last week. The former Bayern Munich midfielder may have struggled for minutes in Germany, but he was at his very best with Espanyol in La Liga.
LL : What were Marc’s strengths and weaknesses at Espanyol?
JC : Marc was a positional midfielder with a great tactical reading and a very good foot for the ball and the organization of the game. A ‘similar’ profile, saving the distances, to Rodrigo (Manchester City) and Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona).
Physically, he suffered a little at the beginning and it was difficult for him to improve his decision-making in an area of the field where mistakes are usually paid dearly.
LL : What was Marc’s best position during his time at Espanyol? What kind of system was the team using and how did he fit into it?
JC : He almost always played as a six. Positional midfielder: single (4-3-3) or accompanying in a double pivot (4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2). He needs to see football face-to-face to filter passes. He is not agile to receive from behind in tight spaces.
LL : Was he on track to play for the senior national team before joining Bayern Munich? Was there any surprise when a club the size of Bayern bought him?
JC : The 18/19 season was the best of his career. Essential for coach Rubi and key in Espanyol’s qualification for the Europa League.
He won the European under-21 (title) with Spain, having a very important role, and everything seemed to indicate, sooner rather than later, he would make the leap to the senior team and a better club. He decided to stay at Espanyol and with relegation he lost prominence and value.
LL : I appreciate that you haven’t seen Marc regularly for two years, but do you feel his game would suit the Premier League in England?
JC : His experience in the Bundesliga has helped him to get to know another [kind of] football that is very different from the one he knew. A much more dynamic and vertical football, perhaps not as technical and tactical, and that requires other conditions he has been able to develop.
The Premier [League] is more like this football than that of La Liga. I really have some doubts, because he has always stood out in associative contexts, with technical colleagues around him.
LL : Is there still interest in Spain, or even in Espanyol, for Marc’s progression? Is he considered a prospect for the national team if he performs well in England?
JC : He has been away from the main focus of the national team for a long time. He would have to perform very well, and continuously, to aspire to the selector’s call again. Right now I would say it is quite unlikely because there is a lot of competition.