Arsenal are leading the race to sign Espanyol midfielder Marc Roca, according to reports in Spain.
The 23-year-old has been ever present for the Barcelona based side this season, making 42 appearances in all competitions so far. He has earned rave reviews for his performances in defensive midfield but it has not been enough to prevent his side propping up the table for much of the campaign.
With Espanyol’s relegation now confirmed, several clubs have been sniffing around in search for a bargain. Everton and Real Madrid are both believed to be interested but Arsenal are leading the race for his signature, according to Spanish outlet La Razon.
Roca has a €40m (£36.3m) release clause in his contract but Espanyol are likely to consider offers in the region of €20m (£18.1m) to €25m (£22.7m) owing to their demotion to the second tier.
The Gunners are known to be on the lookout for a new centre-midfielder and were dealt a crushing blow in their pursuit of Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey when reports emerged suggesting that the Ghanaian was close to agreeing a new deal with Los Rojiblancos.
Roca would be a far cheaper, if less high-profile, piece of business and it is understood that the player would favour a move to England over elsewhere.
However, Arsenal are set to face competition to get their man. Frustrated at the lack of progress in their attempt the sign Rennes wonderkid Eduardo Camavinga due to the Ligue 1 side’s high asking price, Real are thought to be considering Roca as an alternative.
Everton are also in the picture. Carlo Ancelotti is planning a major restructuring of his Toffees’ squad this summer and Roca could help fill the void left by Idrissa Gueye’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain last season.