Marc Roca, a complement to Thomas and liberation for Saúl

Atlético is working on the signing of the Espanyol midfielder. Against Leipzig it was clear that there is no replacement to the Ghanaian, with whom he could form a double pivot.


The Champions League match against Leipzig made it clear that Atlético has no replacement for Thomas. The absence of the Ghanaian was fundamental, with no one assuming the team's ball output or containing the rival attacks to prevent the midfield from splitting, something that happened in the second German goal. A game that amplified the idea of reinforcing the double pivot, since Rodrigo's departure left a huge gap. Llorente, his replacement, has been uncovered in a fantastic way up front after the break, but has put that role aside.

Herrera, in charge of replacing Thomas against Leipzig, has not had a good first year. For this reason, Atlético has marked Marc Roca's name in red. The club is already negotiating with Espanyol to try to get his services and get a replacement for when Thomas is not there, as also happened in the Turin debacle in 2019 where Atlético's elimination in the Champions League was also certified. The agreement could be closed at 15 million plus a footballer in the operation as long as the exit operation is accelerated. But Marc Roca would not only be a replacement player for Thomas, he is a complement to the Ghanaian in the double pivot that would allow Saúl to be detached from that work and bring him closer to the rival area.

The '8' suffers in the engine room and loses one of its great characteristics, the arrival. Saúl's best seasons heading into goal were 2015-16 and 2016-17, with nine goals each when the presence of Augusto, Tiago, Gabi and Thomas himself from behind set him free in attack. As many determinants in the Champions League and unforgettable as the one achieved against Bayern Munich in the 2016 semifinals. In the middle he has continued to contribute in this work, but his appearances with danger are increasingly rare despite the fact that he is one of the best in the world in that facet. This season he has scored seven goals, his best since 2017, but two of them were from penalties at the Camp Nou.

In the case of Thomas, he can also stalk to a greater extent the front of the opponent's area when he has a complementary player at his side. The Ghanaian has a fantastic shot from long range and sometimes takes excessive risks as the only player on the team with the ability to go down to his own area to receive the ball and break lines trying to find Koke or Saúl ahead. A responsibility that costs Saul much more. Marc Roca himself is a footballer accustomed to having a partner by his side in that aspect, either as a pivot or as a player with the most reach between the two midfielders.

Brillo with the Sub-21

Marc Roca is an experienced player despite being only 23 years old. Although last year was not good, like that of an entire Espanyol that finished last, Roca accumulates 103 matches in the First Division and has left his best version with the Under-21 National Team. He was key to obtaining the 2019 Under-21 European Championship, escorting Fabián and Dani Ceballos to form the best midfield of the tournament. He started the tournament as a substitute, but ended up being essential with a goal in the semifinal against France included. A Marc Roca who stands out for his good ball handling and ability to find the best-placed teammate with short passes and long deliveries, as well as having greatly improved in positioning and defensive ability.

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