Why Patrick Roberts could be a useful signing for Middlesbrough
If the latest transfer development is anything to go by, Man City are keen to recall the 22-year-old from his loan spell at Carrow Road after a disappointing first half of the campaign.
Roberts has made only four first-team appearances for the Canaries in all competitions so far, with his only start coming in a 1-0 EFL Cup defeat against Crawley Town way back in August.
The former England U-20 international has clocked up only 24 minutes of Premier League football across three substitute appearances under Daniel Farke and has even failed to make the matchday squads on numerous occasions, with his only goal this season coming against West Brom in a U-23 fixture.
Man City are understandably frustrated with the 22-year-old’s lack of playtime in the Premier League, and as per the report, the reigning Premier League champions are prepared to terminate the winger’s loan spell at Norwich City midway through the campaign.
Middlesbrough have expressed an interest in securing Roberts’ services on loan during the mid-season trading window while strugglers Stoke City have also emerged as a contender in the race to sign him. (h/t Daily Mail)
Roberts, who rose through the youth ranks of Fulham before joining Man City back in the summer of 2015, previously spent two-and-a-half seasons on loan at Celtic, impressing in the UEFA Champions League and winning three back-to-back Scottish domestic titles with the Hoops.
The 22-year-old failed to make much of an impact on his loan spell at Girona in the La Liga last term and things have gone even further downhill for Roberts since he completed a temporary move to Norwich City this past summer.
Meanwhile, Middlesbrough have really put the foot on the accelerator after a terrible first half of the campaign, with the Teessiders managing to come away with all three points from each of their last four games in the Championship.
Having registered consecutive victories over Stoke City, Huddersfield Town and automatic promotion contenders West Brom, Boro continued their resurgence in the Championship with yet another impressive 2-0 win against Preston North End on New Year’s Day, thanks to a goal from Rudy Gestede and an own goal from Ben Davies.
Despite managing to find the net 7 times in their last four games, lack of depth and firepower in front of goal continues to be a major cause of concern for manager Jonathan Woodgate at the Riverside Stadium, and an overall tally of just 26 goals scored in 26 games is something that Boro will surely need to improve on in the coming months.
Middlesbrough have done exceptionally well to close the gap on the top-six to just seven points with a string of positive results but attacking reinforcements in January could hold the key if the Teessiders are to mount an unlikely surge for the playoffs moving forward.
The likes of Rudy Gestede, Marcus Tavernier, Djed Spence and Ashley Fletcher have all risen to the occasion in recent weeks to cover for the injury absence of first-choice striker Britt Assombalonga but one does get the feeling that Middlesbrough can certainly do with some more guile down the wide areas of the pitch.
To put things into perspective, Patrick Roberts might have found regular minutes hard to come by at Norwich City in the Premier League but he continues to be an exciting prospect.
To that end, Middlesbrough completing a loan move for the winger in January would certainly hand a massive boost to their chances of climbing further up the table in the coming months.
With Marvin Johnson largely underwhelming in the first half of the season, Woodgate has been forced to rely on several makeshift options to fill the gaps out wide on either side of the pitch and it is easy to see that a specialist winger like Roberts could make a big difference.
The 22-year-old, who showed strong signs of promise at Celtic north of the border, is primarily left-footed but he has the versatility to play out wide on both sides of the pitch, and Boro would be well within their rights to expect him to make a positive impact.
Roberts already has some decent professional experience under his belt, and his arrival at Teesside would understandably increase competition for places while also adding some much-needed guile to Boro’s attack, with fixtures set to come thick and fast in the crucial second half of the season.
Looking at things from the player’s perspective, simply warming the bench at Norwich isn’t going to do his development any good and Roberts’ prospects of first-team football certainly look better at the Riverside Stadium, with Boro currently on a roll.
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Having said that, Middlesbrough should go all out in their pursuit of Patrick Roberts in January if Man City do end up terminating his loan agreement at Carrow Road prematurely.