One transfer that has seemingly gone under the radar as of late is Manchester City’s capture of Fulham and England prospect Patrick Roberts. Roberts became the third English player to make the switch to the Etihad this summer, following Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph’s arrival from Liverpool and Aston Villa respectively.
Roberts has long been linked with a move to the Premier League, with a number of the league’s top teams expressing an interest in the player, and Manchester City are the team to have finally acquired their man after paying a reported £11million for him.
After establishing himself in the Fulham first-team last season, his valuation rocketed following a string of promising performances, including 17 appearances in the Championship. Roberts has also built up a promising reputation playing for England at several youth levels, amassing a total of 31 caps and scoring 14 goals across the development teams.
Beginning his career at AFC Wimbledon’s academy, Roberts joined Fulham at the age of 13. In February 2014, he signed his first professional contract, shortly after his 17th birthday. He soon began to shine for Fulham’s youth teams, which included a goal in the second-leg of the 2014 FA Youth Cup Final.
Eventually, he earned his call-up to the senior side with then manager Felix Magath naming the young prodigy amongst the substitutes for a Premier League match against Newcastle United. In Fulham’s next Premier League fixture, on the 22nd March 2014, Roberts made his debut as a 55th minute substitute against no other than Manchester City. His next appearance came on the opening day of the 2014-2015 Championship season, coming on as a substitute and registering an assist.
Despite Fulham manager Kit Symons making his determination to keep the 18-year-old well known to the media and the player himself, the magnetic pull of success and glory has led the young midfielder to the blue half of Manchester.
Dubbed ‘the English Messi’ by the British media, Roberts’ playing style has been likened to current Manchester City teammate Raheem Sterling and ex-United winger Ryan Giggs. Although not prolific at club level, with Roberts yet to score a goal in senior football, his performances suggest he has what it takes to cut it at the highest level.
However, he is far from the finished product. City will need to learn how to coax out all of his natural ability, as he still too young and inexperienced to be a first team player. He is fearless and his technique is superb, and this will stand him in good stead for the future.
It seems more likely that Roberts will spend time away from the club on loan, or training with City’s Elite Development Squad. With City needing to top up their home-grown quota, Roberts’ capture looks to be a fantastic bit of business.
Although highly expensive, his signing will come off as a coup if City can unlock his potential. At this stage we should not expect much from him, but there certainly is a player in there and he is definitely one to keep an eye on.