SIMON JONES: Mindful midfielder Marc Roca, who plays ‘like a quarterback’, is set to light up Leeds with his ‘hard work and good positional play’, with his £10.4m move nearing completion
- Leeds are looking to close to a £10.4million for Marc Roca from Bayern Munich
- 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 like a quarterback
Marc Roca may not be the quickest but for Leeds United’s £10.4million signing, the game is all in the mind.
A deep thinker, advocate of meditation and avid reader, the Spaniard, who is joining from Bayern Munich, recommends Awaken the Giant Within by American motivational guru Tony Robbins as bedtime reading.
Roca, whose fee may rise to £14.7m, models his game on former Liverpool maestro Xabi Alonso. He arrived in Bavaria from Espanyol with great expectations in 2020 amid interest from Barcelona and Arsenal, but a combination of injuries and stellar competition meant that most of his time at Bayern was spent in the shadows.
For Leeds United’s £10.4million signing Marc Roca the game is all in the mind
His mentality has never been in question but his speed and intensity sometimes are.
‘He can compensate for his weaknesses with good positional play,’ insists Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann.
‘He is very hardworking and always willing to listen.’
That said, Nagelsmann preferred to leave Roca on the bench until giving him a surprise start against Stuttgart last December.
A 5-0 win ensued and a contrite Nagelsmann admitted: ‘I praised him in the dressing room. I don’t usually 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’
‘The way he fought and gave everything was impressive. I love the kind of player who proves the coach wrong and shows it was a mistake not to play them often.’
Roca threw himself into the German lifestyle, learning the language and putting on muchneeded 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 Munich park, where he ran and exercised his beloved pet dogs.
The experience on the bench has tested the 25-year-old’s psyche but fortunately he has been prepared.
The central midfielder threw himself into the German lifestyle and learnt 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 have to know what to do.
‘So it’s good to hide everything else; the thoughts of the pressure, of the 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 is getting a player with a ‘good mentality’ according to ormer Bayern technical director Michael Reschke
So what exactly is Leeds boss Jesse Marsch getting?
‘Roca plays like a quarterback,’ said former Bayern technical director Michael Reschke. ‘He has good passing, short and long, his technique is good and he has a good mentality.
‘He was certainly well respected by his team-mates,’ he added. ‘The one downside perhaps is that he could be a little stronger.’
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