Why Celtic Must Keep Patrick Roberts Next Season
Celtic fans are still in the dark as to whether Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts will be back on loan at the club next season or better still, arrive on a permanent deal.
At just 20-years of age, Roberts is improving at a rate of knots and for his part, seems keen to have some time training with the Man City first team this summer in a bid to impress boss Pep Guardiola.
The former Fulham winger was instrumental in Celtic’s unstoppable march to the domestic treble last season and got visually better as every month went by. Playing primarily on the right-hand side of the attack, Roberts netted 9 goals and created another 14 in just 32 league games.
Being involved in a goal once in every 82 minutes in the Scottish Premiership is quite a stunning record for a player of his age. Given the natural rate of improvement, Roberts can be expected to deliver even more next term and so Celtic should do absolutely everything they can to convince him to come back.
Players of Roberts’ quality do not come along every window and frankly, the Scottish Premiership was lucky to have him. In ordinary circumstances, a player of this type would not consider playing at this level again. However, Celtic’s trump card is Champions League football.
Unless Roberts is promised first team opportunities at the Etihad (which is highly doubtful even after the release of Jesus Navas), then another year at Parkhead might be a good option.
A 6-month loan deal may be something that all parties can consider. From Celtic’s point of view, they may or may not be involved in Champions League football after December. So reassessing their squad in the winter may not be such a bad thing.
For the player, spending the first half of the season in Europe’s top competition is a chance for him to break into the England squad in what is, after all, a World Cup year. If there seems to be no chance of a place for Roberts on the plane to Russia by December, then an extension of his loan at Parkhead could be organised.
If Roberts does not come back to Celtic then it’s absolutely certain that cannot directly replace that level of quality. With Rangers improving their squad markedly this summer already, Celtic need all the quality they can get to keep their old rivals safely at bay.