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Leeds: Marc Roca is set to light up Jesse Marsch’s side with ‘hard work and good positional play’

SIMON JONES: Astute midfielder Marc Roca, who plays ‘like a quarterback’, will brighten Leeds with his ‘hard work and good positional play’ as his £10.4m move is nearing completion

  • Leeds are looking for nearly £10.4million for Bayern Munich’s Marc Roca
  • The midfielder is a deep thinker, advocate of meditation and avid reader
  • Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann praised Roca for being ‘hardworking’
  • Ex-Bayern technical director Michael Reschke said he plays as a quarterback

Marc Roca may not be the fastest, but for the £10.4 million signing by Leeds United, the game is all in the heart.

A deep thinker, advocate of meditation and an avid reader, the Spaniard recommends Awaken the Giant Within by American motivational guru Tony Robbins as a bedtime read.

Roca, whose fee can reach up to £14.7 million, is modeling his game on former Liverpool maestro Xabi Alonso. He arrived in Bavaria in 2020 from Espanyol with high hopes amid interest from Barcelona and Arsenal, but a combination of injuries and great competition meant that most of his time at Bayern was spent in the shadows.

For Leeds United's £10.4m signing Marc Roca, the game is all in the mind

For Leeds United’s £10.4 million signing Marc Roca, the game is all in the head

His mentality has never been in question, but his speed and intensity sometimes have.

“He can compensate for his weaknesses with good positional play,” emphasizes Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann.

“He is very hardworking and always willing to listen.”

That said, Nagelsmann preferred to let Roca sit on the bench until he gave him a surprise start against Stuttgart last December.

A 5-0 win followed and a remorseful Nagelsmann admitted: “I praised him in the dressing room. Normally I don’t praise individual players in front of the others, but he deserved it.

Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann praised him for being 'hardworking and willing to listen'

Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann praised him for being ‘hardworking and willing to listen’

“The way he fought and gave his all was impressive. I like the kind of player who proves the coach wrong and shows that it was a mistake not to play against them often.”

Roca plunged into the German lifestyle, learned the language and built much-needed muscle to the delight of the German tabloid press, who charted his progress on Instagram. He rented an apartment with girlfriend Gala on the edge of a park in Munich, where he ran and walked his beloved dogs.

The experience on the couch has put the 25-year-old’s psyche to the test, but thankfully he’s prepared.

The central midfielder plunged into the German lifestyle and learned the language

The central midfielder plunged into the German lifestyle and learned the language

“Yes, the concept is called mindfulness,” Roca told Bild.

‘I’ve been working on it with a coach for four years. You don’t have much time to think on the pitch, by the time you get the ball you need to know what to do.

‘So it’s good to hide everything else; the thoughts of pressure, of expectations, of anything that weakens the focus on the game itself. So before training and playing I do breathing exercises to clear my head.’

Jesse Marsch will get a player with a 'good mentality' according to former technical director Michael Reschke.  from Bayern

Jesse Marsch will get a player with a ‘good mentality’ according to former technical director Michael Reschke. from Bayern

So what exactly does Leeds boss Jesse Marsch get?

“Roca plays like a quarterback,” said Bayern’s former technical director Michael Reschke. “He has a good passing, short and long, his technique is good and he has a good mentality.

“He was certainly well respected by his teammates,” he added. “Perhaps the only downside is that it could be a little stronger.”



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