by Tom Lees - 14th February 2016
Patrick Roberts was already a familiar name to Fulham fans, and those that had seen him play at England youth level, but he became national news in the summer of 2015 with a high profile move to Manchester City. A reported £12 million was paid by the Manchester club to Championship side Fulham for the winger’s services, an extraordinary amount for an 18-year-old with only 22 club appearances to his name. The potential shown by Roberts early in his career more than justified such a huge sum though, and a lot is expected of him over the next few years.
Born in Kingston upon Thames, young Roberts originally began his career in the youth system of AFC Wimbledon before making the move to Fulham in 2010, aged only 13. The youngster progressed well, featuring for England at national youth levels before signing his first professional contract with the Cottagers in February 2014. A month later he was handed his professional debut, ironically coming on as a second half substitute against Manchester City. Further exposure to the Fulham first team followed over the next year as the side slipped into the Championship, before the surprise big money move to the big spending Manchester club in 2015. As many predicted the move to City has stagnated the youngster’s development with playing time extremely limited, but in January 2016 Manchester City reached an agreement with Scottish champions Celtic for an 18-month loan move for the youngster. Now with the chance to play regular football over an extended period of time, in a physical environment, under high pressure, Roberts has the chance to grow. A chance to perfect his game and hone his incredible talents that have seen him labelled as such a big star for the future.
A regular at England Under 17’s, and 19’s, Roberts was a huge success in England’s triumphant Under 17 European Championship side in the 2014 tournament, and was also selected in the team of the tournament awards. His low centre of gravity, acceleration, quick feet and skills and the ability to turn defenders inside out has seen the youngster dubbed the ‘English Messi’. At youth levels he would often be seen drifting out wide right, and lighting up games with his passing, shooting and exciting take ons as he would cut inside onto his left foot showing the flair of a more continental player. The England fans that watched him star for the youth sides have been excited about the prospects of Roberts since he broke into the setup, now fans of the senior side are hoping that the move to Celtic can push him on to superstar status.
Once the loan move to Scotland is up it will be interesting to see where Patrick Roberts career is, Manchester City under Pep Guardiola will be an entirely different animal and the chance to shine at the Etihad just may not be available. But Roberts needs to play, English football needs him to play, when a gem comes through a footballing youth system it has to be nurtured. Patrick Roberts is England’s latest gem, and has what it takes to become a national star. He is still slight of frame, very inexperienced when it comes to senior level and time is ticking by. Roberts will need to build up his strength, learn fast, have no fear and rely on his talents, it’s been a difficult last year for the young English wonder kid, but if he plays to his potential, the next few years could be very exciting indeed.