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The inside track on Sunderland's Patrick Roberts swoop - and why they believe he'll be worth the wait

The hope and belief at Sunderland is that this is an 'amazing coup' that will prove to be worth the wait.

By Phil Smith
Friday, 21st January 2022, 3:56 pm
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 3:56 pm

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The hope and belief at Sunderland is that this is an 'amazing coup' that will prove to be worth the wait.

The broad strokes of a deal to bring Patrick Roberts to the club have been in place for a little while but it was a complex one to finalise as he brought a long association with Manchester City to an end six months before his contract expired.

That drew attention from other clubs, some of whom may well have been able to offer more lucrative terms to the player, but he had already committed to what he feels is an exciting project at the Stadium of Light.

Patrick Roberts has signed a six-month deal at Sunderland

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The end result is one that could have significant upside for the club, but also protects both parties if it does not work out as planned.

Though Roberts has only signed a six-month deal initially, there is the option to extend on the club's part for another year and the genuine hope is that this will be an ever longer-term arrangement.

While the initial investment (in terms of fee) is modest, there will be upside for Manchester City if it does prove to be a medium to long-term success.

"We hope that this is the place he calls home for a number of years," Lee Johnson said.

At 24 Roberts has good experience and some eye-catching performances under his belt, but a staggering eight loans during his time at City has left him in need of stability and consistency of selection.

The Black Cats believe there are similarities with Alex Pritchard, who had endured a difficult period before arriving on Wearside but whose technical quality was not in doubt.

Johnson described that as a 'renovation project' and this is similar.

Sunderland believe that like Pritchard, some degree of patience will be required.

Roberts is available for selection against Portsmouth and has trained at the Academy of Light all of this week, only a paperwork delay preventing the move from being finalised an announced.

On the other hand, his last competitive appearance for Troyes was on September 22nd and his last significant action of any kind is believed to have been in a bounce game around a week before Christmas.

Between that point and making his move to the North East Roberts also contracted COVID, inevitably setting back the personal programme he was on.

He is ready to make an impact immediately, but the expectation is that it will be a few weeks before he is in peak condition.

With Aiden McGeady sidelined, Johnson's usually strong options behind the central striker have been somewhat limited.

After drawing with Accrington Stanley, he candidly made the point that with his current squad he was in a position where he was having to select a 50% Pritchard to start games.

Roberts brings strong competition, and should fit neatly into the playing style.

Sunderland also believe that he is a big-game player, who will thrive on the pressure.

"The beauty of Sunderland is that there is a big occasion every three days," Johnson said.

Though more is required, with the arrival of Danny Batth it has been a crucial week.

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