City’s never ending quest to find the best English talent has led the people in charge to Craven Cottage and young Fulham talent Patrick Roberts. The total cost of the deal could go up to £11m but the initial fee itself is reportedly less than half of that.
Putting aside the usual garden variety cynicism from outside the club about how a young player could ever break into City’s team, what can we expect from Patrick Roberts?
What is abundantly clear is that Roberts should be treated as a player with huge potential but one who is far, far away from the finished article. This assessment makes it very difficult to judge him properly.
On the one hand, he is certainly not ready for first team football. In fact I would hazard a guess that he is a very long way from being a first team player, let alone a regular. As per Fulham fan Ben Weeks:
@TypicalCity …very much a kid, both in attitude and physically. He's going to need more than the usual development phases, IMO.
— Ben (@ffcbytheriver) June 16, 2015
Roberts made his Premier League debut against City in 2014 but since then has failed to truly break into the Fulham first team in the Championship and is not going to be a revelation at Premier League level straight away.
Which is fine. There is no point in having built the best training facility in Europe at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds if you don’t intend to use it to train players.
On the other hand… this 18 year old has a hell of a lot of potential. To say he is fast and tricky is somewhat of an understatement:
Calling him the “English Messi” is ludicrously premature but Roberts has been making waves at youth and youth international level for a while now and it seems certain that he will step up at some point. The trick is coaxing all of that natural ability out of him and turning it into a consistent, reliable end product.
He has some growing to do but seems to have no lack of competitive courage. Having the confidence to back yourself in tight situations against bigger and stronger players is an excellent character trait and is a well he will need to draw deeply from if he is to make something of himself at City.
He runs at players without fear and the ball seems to stick to his feet. The speed with which he moves the ball in tight situations allied with an improvisational mind and technique should also stand him in good stead.
Whether he will join the first team squad depends rather a lot on the pre-season training and is impossible to predict at the time being. It is more likely that he might join the EDS for a season or even immediately go back out on loan. Only time will tell.
At this stage we should not expect too much from him. There is a player in there. One to look forward to but not one to rush. it might take him longer than normal to mature into the finished product but early indications suggest it might be worth the wait. Along with players City fans are a bit more familiar with such as Raheem Sterling and Brandon Barker it is clear that the potential for City to have a collection of extremely destructive wide players in a few years time is there.
But please, please can we not refer to him as the “English Messi”. Thanks.
Written by Alex Timperley