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Tomorrow Academy: Patrick Roberts

So you're a hot U17 for England, what do you do now? Go to Liverpool? Probably not.

Tom Dulat

Patrick Roberts has seemingly been deemed the latest and greatest thing to arise from the English developmental system. A Fulham youth (by way of AFC Wimbledon), he's been involved with the England's Youth National Teams the last three years, including leading England to a UFEA U-17 Championship last year. He's drawn some vague comparisons to Wayne Rooney during his time at Everton and if that type of hyperbole wasn't enough people have started throwing around the title of the 'English Messi'. Which is kind of to throw at the kid who has less than 200 first team minutes.

Compounding the situation, (more) rumors have sparked about a move away from SW6 and to the "big time" lights of Anfield, with Liverpool supposedly the latest team to oogly over the Cottagers youngster. This isn't a new thing. Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham have all been connected at various times through rumors of scouts trips and people writing notes concerning him. Supposedly makes this "different" is the random rumors of his parents allegiance. Which I've found to be a common occurrence with tabloid related crap that can be perpetuated because it's hard to really substantiate.

The other draw is how young Liverpool has chosen to play the last year. Bredan Rodgers and his incorporation of young talents that he's help cultivate include Raheem Sterling, Jordan Hernderson, Philippe Coutinho, Jon Flanagan, Daniel Sturridge and Victor Moses all were first team features under 23 years and with at least 20 league appearances.

However, I'm not sure it's fair to put Roberts in the same boat as any of those individuals just yet. I don't want to throw those away the hype just because of their completely absurd thoughts and ramblings. Roberts is a wonderfully gifted attacker. He has tremendous upside and his growth potential seems limitless that drawing crazy comparisons is just an easy and fun exercise. That said expectations should be tempered just a bit.



  MINS Shots Chances Created Passes Accuracy Duels Won Dribbles
2014-15 47 3 3 30 91% 5 3
2013-14 46 0 0 15 83% 3 2


Even if Roberts were to head northwest, which honestly I doubt, I think a more favorable comparison to his situation and incorporation to the team would be Jordon Ibe. Ibe has made all of 2 first team appearances the last two seasons and has spent more time being developed on the practice field and through loans than through direct time with the first team. There is nothing wrong with that. One can assume that there are multiple methods to develop young players and I don't have near the amount of experience required to form an insightful opinion on which is best, if there was one.

Maybe Roberts cares about how he's developed. Maybe he doesn't.

Maybe Roberts wants to play for a big club. Maybe he's content where he is.

Right now what we do know is that he's a young player on our Fulham squad. He's not an elite talent. Not yet, anyways. But he's growing, progressing forward and he's an awful promising 17 year-old. Which is praise enough without making wild claims.

I don't believe that a team is ready to make the type of splash that would force Fulham's hand into selling him. Roberts hasn't even started for Fulham yet and while that isn't to say he couldn't or won't that is to say that these things take time to develop. Clubs rarely rush into situations where they are throwing millions of dollars at potential without being confident or at least cognizant of the risks. Then again Liverpool threw a truck of money at Andy Carroll and his dumb pony tail.