Manchester City has proven desperate for young English talent this summer as they look to overhaul an aging squad and once again challenge for the Premier League title.
After sealing a staggering deal for 20-year-old Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling costing in the vicinity of $70 million, plus another for fellow international Fabian Delph, they have followed those up with the signature of 18-year-old Fulham forward Patrick Roberts, according to confirmation from both clubs. The deal is reportedly worth around $8 million and can increase to as much as $17 million thanks to add-ons.
Roberts is a very highly-rated young English player who has 31 caps for the England youth system at various levels and who was with the England U-19 team that slumped to a group stage exit in this summer’s World Cup, recording a whopping four goals and four assists. He also led the Fulham youth team to a 2014 FA Youth Cup final and helped the club to U-18 Premier League titles in each of the past three years.
However, Roberts only received 17 first-team appearances at Fulham this past season – and a measly two starts – with manager Kit Symons repeatedly stating the youngster isn’t ready and is “still developing,” citing a lack of strength and physical presence needed to compete at the Championship level.
Despite the lack of playing time, Fulham tried hard to keep Roberts around, but were unable to work out an extension of his contract, which was set to expire next summer. He was linked with multiple top clubs this summer, including Liverpool as a direct replacement for Sterling.
City is looking to replace the likes of James Milner and Alvaro Negredo this summer, plus just generally get younger as a whole squad. Star players such as Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany are beginning to show signs of regression, and the club is still trying to capitalize on the prime of Sergio Aguero’s career, building a strong support cast around the Argentinian striker. However, it appears Roberts has his work cut out for him to break into the City squad, with Sterling and Delph now his direct competition for Premier League playing time along with Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri, and David Silva plus strikers Wilfried Bony and Edin Dzeko in a squad suddenly bulging with attackers. If Roberts cannot find his way into the first-team squad, it’s unlikely he would be loaned out due to City’s urgent need for homegrown players on the roster, leaving him to rot on the roster at a very young age.
Manchester City did not offer any details of Roberts’ new contract, but reports indicate he has signed a five-year contract through the summer of 2020.