Ahead of what looks like being a vital summer transfer window for the club, Celtic should look to bring Patrick Roberts back to Parkhead.
Be it on loan or on a permanent deal, the Hoops have had a Roberts-shaped hole in their squad ever since he departed in the summer of 2018. After spending two loan spells in Glasgow, Roberts left a favourite having made just under 80 appearances for the club in two-and-a-half years (Transfermarkt).
Since then, Celtic have struggled to sign another rival for James Forrest’s position. As things stand, only Marian Shved is a viable contender for Forrest’s right-wing area. He’s been out of favour all season, however, and therefore hasn’t proven to be a reliable choice for Neil Lennon.
Roberts managed to bring out the best in Forrest under Brendan Rodgers. However, he made a fine impact himself with his incredibly tricky feet and generally positive end product. Leaving Celtic with 18 goals and 26 assists, he certainly made his mark.
The argument not to bring him back is a weak one
Since leaving Celtic ahead of the 2018/19 season, Roberts hasn’t made an impact anywhere. He was sent out on loan to Girona last season where he failed to make an impact, and has been similarly ineffective with Norwich and Middlesbrough this term.
The winger is still currently contracted to Man City, with his loan spell at Borough also ongoing. However, given the state of football at the moment, he’s unlikely to play another game for them.
That leaves Roberts with yet another year starved of regular football. He’s in desperate need of a home, and he’s produced the best football of his career during his time in Glasgow. The thought of coming back to Parkhead and getting his career back on track is surely going to be something that would appeal to him.
As of right now, he’s currently injured due to a hamstring knock picked up in late January (BBC). However, Celtic have seen first hand the levels Roberts can get to. Bringing him back could prove to be a steal if he can get a run of games under his belt.
It’s as clear now as it ever has been that he won’t make it at Man City. However, his contract there still runs until 2022 (Transfermarkt). Unless City play ball, he could still be difficult to buy permanently.
Bringing him back to Parkhead in the summer, even on loan, gives us a chance to tool up nicely for the 10-in-a-row season whilst giving us a chance to revisit a permanent deal with him into the final 12 months of his City contract.
If it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t work out. But given Roberts’ raw ability, it seems mad not to take a chance on him.