Aston Villa eye swoop for 'high-level' warrior

Lionel Messi and Marc Roca

Aston Villa's transfer window has been a great success so far.

It's a far cry from shelling out over £130m as they did last term, but they've still spent a pretty considerable amount.

On acquiring players like Emi Martinez and Ollie Watkins, they have spent around the £75m mark.

However, before the window closes, sporting director Johan Lange could have one or two more late splurges. 

Ross Barkley signed on loan a few days ago in what was an eye-catching move. The Chelsea midfielder is a brilliant technician and alongside the likes of John McGinn and Jack Grealish, should provide plenty of creativity. 

Where Villa look towards strengthening next is pretty open.

Josh King is still available and has been touted at £10m while there have been a few rumours of a swoop for Ismaila Sarr. 

Dean Smith

The focus for now, though, is on a holding player. 

According to Spanish publication, LaGrada, Aston Villa are one of three Premier League clubs considering a late move for Espanyol's Marc Roca.

The report states that they expect Roca to depart Catalonia and the English top-flight could well be his next destination.

Sheffield United are interested in signing the 23-year-old while Roca has also caught the eye of Sean Dyche's Burnley side. 

The former Spain U21 international has a pretty hefty release clause of €40m (£36.2m) but it's thought Espanyol will let him go for a price far below that valuation.

LaGrada claims that the Barcelona-based club will let him leave for just €10m (£9m). 

Marc Roca

GIVEMESPORT'S Matt Dawson says...

Considering Aston Villa have Douglas Luiz and Marvelous Nakamba already at their disposal, signing another defensive midfielder doesn't make too much sense.

However, when you consider the type of qualities that Roca offers, you can see why Dean Smith might be interested in bringing him to Villa Park.

Let's compare how his stats match up to both of Villa's holding players.

Comparison of Marc Roca and Douglas Luiz

Within this graphic, courtesy of FB Ref and Football Slices, you can see Luiz's stats in the bold triangles and Roca's in the coloured quadrants. 

It provides an indication that Roca is more effective when it comes to tackles, pressing and also making passes into the final third. 

However, Luiz is actually better at dribbling, interceptions and he is also dribbled past by an opponent on a far less regular basis. As for Nakamba, the stats are below. 

Roca vs Nakamba comparison

Nakamba is the bold slice here and what we notice is that he comes out on top in terms of pass completion, dribble success, interceptions and pressing. His tackling stats are only fractionally better too. 

As a result of these comparisons, we get an ideal sense of what Roca is capable of. Described as a player with a "high level of technical ability" by Scouted Football, he is adept going forward and is also strong in the tackle. 

Although Luiz is good at dribbling, neither he or Nakamba offer as much threat in the final third as Roca does. In some senses, therefore, he'd be an upgrade on what Aston Villa already possess.

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