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Valued at Celtic, why it didn't work out at Middlesbrough and what Sunderland fans can expect after Patrick Roberts' arrival from Manchester City

Sunderland have completed the signing of Patrick Roberts from Manchester City on a permanent deal – but what can fans expect?

Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 8:17 am

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The 24-year-old playmaker joined City in 2015 but made just three appearances for the current Premier League champions – amid loan spells at Celtic, Norwich, Middlesbrough and Derby.

Here’s a closer look at where he could fit in at the Stadium of Light:

What sort of player is he?

Patrick Roberts playing for Middlesbrough.

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Roberts is a left-footed playmaker who has predominantly played on the right flank, where he can cut inside onto his stronger foot.

He has also operated in the No 10 position where he can roam behind a striker and run at defenders.

At 5 ft 6, Roberts’ biggest strength are his dribbling skills and ability to move the ball quickly.

Still, the player’s physical attributes, including multiple hamstring injuries, have hampered his career so far.

What’s happened at previous clubs?

The club where Roberts is remembered most fondly is at Celtic, where he spent two and a half years during multiple loan spells.

After making 78 appearances for the SPL club, Roberts was repeatedly praised by then-Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers.

“Patrick is a fantastic player and we are always going to be interested in top class players,” said Rodgers in 2018. “He's a player we'd love to keep.”

Despite that appraisal, Roberts moved to Spanish side Girona, where he was held back by a hamstring injury, before an unsuccessful loan spell at Norwich in the Premier League.

Roberts then appeared to become something of a fans’ favourite after joining Championship club Middlesbrough, initially impressing under Jonathan Woodgate at the start of 2020 before suffering another hamstring setback.

The playmaker returned when the season resumed following the first lockdown and played an important role to keep Boro up under Neil Warnock – before Roberts was re-signed by the Teessiders.

Yet while the player was told he’d be a key part in the team’s attack, Roberts made just nine Championship appearances, before being recalled by City and sent out on loan to Derby in January 2021.

Warnock’s biggest reservation was the lack of defensive cover Roberts offered in wide areas, as the team predominately operated in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

“I apologised to him for it not working out,” said Warnock after the loan deal was cut short in January.

“I just couldn’t get him into the team in a position where I felt that we didn’t have a better alternative.

“We tried it on two or three occasions and it just never quite came off.”

Roberts made 15 appearances, scoring once, for Derby in the second half of last season as the Rams stayed up on the final day of the campaign.

Where will fit in at Sunderland?

Roberts will clearly add competition and ability to Sunderland’s squad.

The Black Cats have reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation in recent weeks, and Roberts could fill any of the three positions behind the striker – although he would be suited to playing on the left.

With Aiden McGeady expected to be sidelined until February, Johnson has been left with one less option in that area.

The Black Cats boss does still have Lynden Gooch, Leon Dajaku, Aiden O’Brien and Elliot Embleton who can all operate out wide.

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