Arsenal are leading the chase to sign Espanyol star Marc Roca, according to a report in Spain.
The midfield enforcer is also wanted by Everton and AC Milan, but Mikel Arteta is a long-time admirer of Roca and the Gunners are in pole position, according to La Razon.
Arteta is keen on a deal for the 23-year-old, who is only under contract until June 2022. Roca has a £35million release clause in his contract, but Espanyol could accept a lower price given the Covid-19 outbreak, the club’s possible relegation and the player’s contract circumstances.
The Gunners, who have a tight transfer budget, will be hoping to get a big reduction on that price tag and if Thomas Partey proves out of reach then Roca may well be their first-choice back up.
Atletico Madrid star Partey has a release clause of £44.5m in his contract, but Atletico are unlikely to give any discount on the 26-year-old midfielder who is under contract until 2023.
The Gunners know they will likely need Champions League football to fund a deal for Partey and with Arteta’s men eight points off fourth place, they face an uphill battle.
That’s where Roca could fit in, because he will be a far cheaper option for Arteta, who is keen to add a combative midfielder to his side and with Espanyol rooted to the foot of LaLiga there could be the opportunity for Arsenal to strike a deal.
Roca has recently left his agents JM10 Sport to join Promoesport – an agency who also represent Premier League pair Adama Traore and Eric Bailly.
La Razon claim Arteta is “very interested” in Roca although Milan pose a threat to their plans with Milan News claiming manager Stefano Pioli wants to play him alongside Ismael Bennacer.