Manchester City seem increasingly likely to sign Fulham’s England Under-19 international Patrick Roberts in the coming days, according to reports from a wide range of sources.
Roberts, 18, started just three times for the Cottagers last term, making 16 more appearances across all competitions as a substitute.
In total he mustered one assist across 441 minutes of action – while he has long been regarded as a talented prospect he is no Lionel Messi as yet.
The widely accepted reason that City want to acquire the teenager is that they wish to fortify their first-team roster with his homegrown status, while deploying him in their Elite Development Squad.
Several English players have departed the club this summer, with James Milner moving to Liverpool, Aston Villa signing Micah Richards and Frank Lampard finally making good his move to New York City.
Yet as an explanation it doesn’t quite wash. As of January this year, Patrick Vieira’s young Citizens already had eight English representatives alongside its Belgians, Spaniards, Nigerians, Swedes, Kossovans and Portuguese.
Last season Manuel Pellegrini invited two of them, Brandon Barker and George Evans, to join the club’s mid-season training camp in Abu Dhabi.
The Sky Blues have no need to buy in an English teenager to take advantage of his homegrown status, so there must be another explanation and the most obvious one is that the current comparable EDC crop are simply not good enough to make the step up.
Such a state affairs can only reflect badly upon former Arsenal invincible Vieira, who has been in charge of the side since 2013 and involved in developing the club’s youngsters in some form since his retirement in 2011.
Manchester City are 11/4 second-favourites to regain the Premier League title they lost to Chelsea last season, with Jose Mourinho’s side the 13/10 favourites.