Leeds United target Marc Roca compared to Rodri and Toni Kroos
Leeds United target Marc Roca is “absolutely brilliant” in possession but “may struggle” with Premier League physicality, according to Guillem Balague.
Phil Hay reported in The Athletic on Thursday [9 June] that the Whites had turned their attention to the Bayern Munich midfielder, who is available for around £10million, as they want to provide back-up for Kalvin Phillips.
The Spaniard has been at the Allianz Arena for two seasons but has only made 24 appearances in total for the German giants, so should be available if United can agree a deal, but despite certain quality on the ball Balague has some concerns about his fit at Elland Road.
He compares the former Espanyol man to illustrious midfield counterparts at Manchester City and Real Madrid, but physical questions remain.
The BBC and CBS journalist told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Roca is a variation of Rodri, but the Rodri that first arrived to the Premier League,”
“His distribution is very good. He [was] a little bit like the [Toni] Kroos [at] Espanyol… obviously he’s not as good as Kroos but he’s got good short passing, clever passing up front, not like Kroos with 50 metres accurate passing, not yet.
“He does see a pass. For the possession game he’s absolutely brilliant, is good at reacting as well.
“My question is physically, he may struggle at first.
“Because he hasn’t played regularly for the last two years, three years you’ll have to see, there’s always a question mark, especially about the pace – he wasn’t the fastest.
“It’s difficult to get the ball off him but he used to take too many risks, although they [Bayern] might have taken that out of his game.”
“Because he has been in Germany he must be stronger than he was when he was in Spain.
“He’s a clever boy and he will absorb things and you know, he will adapt his game, there’s no doubt about it. And he’s got a lot of personality as well.”
Pros and cons
It is no surprise to hear that 25-year-old has ability as he would not have arrived at the serial Bundesliga champions by accident.
The fact that he has struggled for opportunities in Bavaria isn’t necessarily a sign that he won’t succeed at Leeds United since it’s unlikely he would be available to them if he was a more central figure there.
The physical aspects are somewhat of a red flag though and he wouldn’t be the first player to find the English top flight a shock to the system.
If he is brought in it is very much going to depend on how Jesse Marsch sets up.
A cultured passer could be invaluable with the right protection around him, but the ease with which teams ran through the Whites line up at times during the 2021/22 season suggests a dangerous place to drop a player lacking speed and physicality.
However, the manager had to do his best with players that he inherited since he arrived after the January transfer window.
And while the subsequent relegation battle was at times chaotic the club are now backing him in the market, so the assumption has to be that the incoming players suit his plans better.
If they can land Roca for around the quoted price and he looks anything like Rodri or Kroos he will be a bargain, but if he isn’t able to exhibit those qualities he could become the latest market misstep at Elland Road.