Arsenal are understood to have approached Espanyol midfielder Marc Roca over a potential move to the Emirates this summer.
The Gunners are on the lookout for a new midfielder, with current loanee Dani Ceballos expected to reject the chance to return next season and instead push for a move to Real Betis.
Plenty of names have been suggested, but Sport report that Roca is the man for Arsenal. Mikel Arteta’s side are thought to have already registered their interest and they are waiting for the coronavirus crisis to end so they can start negotiations.
Far from a direct replacement for Ceballos though, Roca typically sits much deeper in a midfield three than the Real Madrid man – and has talked in the past about the efforts he’s made to improve his defensive game.
The 23-year-old, who is under contract until 2022, was given permission to leave Espanyol last summer and came close to sealing a €20m move to Bayern Munich, but Espanyol eventually decided they wanted his full €40m release clause paid and killed the move.
Arsenal are thought to have been monitoring Roca last season as well, but they eventually pursued Ceballos. However, with the latter’s season-long move not proving especially productive, the Gunners have reverted to their original plan.
It is expected that Arsenal will wait until the end of the season to make an official bid as they are hopeful that Roca’s price could drop. Espanyol are currently bottom of La Liga and are staring relegation in the face, which could force them to lower their demands.
As for Ceballos, he is likely to leave once the season ends, but he confessed to El Chiringuito that he would be prepared to extend his loan to ensure he finishes the current campaign if it spills over into the summer.
“I finish my contract on 30 June but I would have to [continue to] play for Arsenal [when football returns],” Ceballos admitted. “I don’t know how [that would work]. It would be irresponsible from my side to talk about my future. The most important thing will be for me to be important for my new team.”