He was expected to be the next big thing. But after six long years at Manchester City, Patrick Roberts is closer to leaving the club than becoming a first team player.
Branded as “extraordinary” by former Bayern Munich and his then manager at Fulham Felix Magath, Roberts is far from realising that potential. The 24-year-old is currently at City’s sister club Troyes. But it has been a difficult start to life in France.
He has played for just 13 minutes for the newly promoted Ligue 1 side. The team is struggling to readjust to life in the French top flight. With just one win in the first nine league games of the season, the side is sitting 17th on the league table.
With this form, relegation is very much likely at the end of the season. What is also concerning is the fact that Roberts is not considered good enough to help the side stem the tide of poor results.
The winger has spent the last six years as a player on City’s books traveling from country to country. For a player that held so much promise at Fulham where he was expected to become one of England’s biggest talents of the future, things have so far not gone according to plan.
After signing a deal worth £11million for the Blues, he was first sent out to Scotland. Joining up with Brendan Rodgers then at Celtic, the Englishman initially thrived.
He bagged seven goals in 12 appearances for the Bhoys, helping them to the Scottish Premier League title. In his first full season he was one of the star performers as the team won the domestic treble under Brendan Rodgers going the entire season unbeaten.
He made 24 league appearances that season at the club, scoring nine goals and making 14 assists. Overall, he contributed 18 goals in 79 outings for the Celts. He was even named Scottish player of the month in April 2016 due to his performances.
As his 18-month loan spell drew to a close, the Scottish giants moved to make his signing permanent. But their reported £8m offer was turned down by City, who expected his value to improve exponentially.
The two clubs opted for the safe option of another one year loan deal. For the 2017-18 campaign, he was given the club’s iconic number seven jersey. A bad hamstring injury put paid to positive expectations as he was out for four months. By the time he returned, things were not the same as he struggled to replicate his previous form.
It was time to move on.
He expressed his desire to play in the Premier League. But that did not materialise as he ended up in Spain with another of City’s sister clubs. Despite being thrust into the thick of La Liga action a day after signing for Girona on August 16, 2018, he was quickly relegated to the sidelines from the next game.
Meanwhile, then fellow City loanee Douglas Luiz quickly established himself as a regular in the side. It was not until November before Roberts managed a start in La Liga.
Unfortunately, he suffered another debilitating hamstring injury. That proved to be the final blow. He became a peripheral figure in the team from then on as Girona ended up relegated back to the Segunda Division.
Next up was another loan move to newly promoted Norwich in the Premier League. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally prove his worth. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
In his first start for the Canaries, they crashed out of the League Cup at Crawley. In the first three months at the club, he played just 34 minutes of league football for Daniel Farke’s side, all as a substitute.
It was clear this was not a good fit for both parties. He returned to City in January, and then straight back out on loan, this time to Championship side Middlesbrough in January.
After facing a similar problem of not enough game time, the next stop was at Derby County. His time there under Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney cannot be regarded as a successful.
Now in France with Troyes, it's the same story. Six years on after signing for City and several loan spells taken in, Roberts has not made a strong case for consideration by Pep Guardiola.
In fact, it appears at this point City might be regretting not taking the offer Celtic made to buy him a few years back. Unless, of course, the player’s career takes a dramatic turn for the best in the months ahead.