Manchester City’s enigmatic midfielder Patrick Roberts is a name which has cropped up a lot over the summer months.
The former Fulham man, who joined City as a hotly tipped youngster in 2015, spent the last 18 months on loan with Celtic and impressed all those watching on before returning to The Etihad at the end of the Invincibles season.
Having re-joined Pep Guardiola’s squad the 20-year-old headed out on their pre-season tour, however, with a wealth of attacking talent already in their ranks, before the addition of Bernardo Silva from Monaco, it looks unlikely Roberts will be getting much out of the former Barcelona boss in terms of game time.
With that in mind, both Brendan Rodgers and the playmaker seem keen on rekindling his time north of the border regardless as to whether he returns on loan or on a permanent basis. It’s easy to see why as well, the player was a firm fan favourite at Celtic Park and, during his time there, bagged 17 goals and picked up another 21 assists.
However, his form has also drawn interest from other suitors. Nice were seemingly close to a deal until it all fell apart, though Premier League outfit Southampton remain interested and, according to transfermarkt.com, their chances of landing a deal are on the rise, while Rodgers’ are in decline.
What could swing that back in the former Liverpool manager’s favour, however, is their standing in the Champions League. While Guardiola will be keen for his man to play top level football on a regular basis, which would lend to a deal with the Saints, any European experience is invaluable and also not on offer on the south coast.
The Celts are now, after two rounds of qualifying, into the play-off round where they face Kazakhstan outfit FC Astana, and are a comfortable 4/11 to pick up a win in the first leg this week with some bookies.
While it may seem comfortable, it would be naïve of Rodgers to not be taking a look at other targets, should it all go the wrong way and Roberts joined another side.
With that in mind, here are three alternatives the champions should be considering…
The highly rated Manchester United prospect is keen to impress manager Jose Mourinho this season, however, it seems there will be few chances for the midfielder who spent last season on loan with Granada, where he worked with former Arsenal man Tony Adams.
While he his keen to stay put at Old Trafford, the lure of first team football in the Champions League at a club the size of Celtic could well turn his head.
The 21-year-old, who can play in the hole or out on the left, is wonderful with the ball at his feet, has a remarkable eye for goal and is also a dab-hand over a set piece and thus has a lot to offer Rodgers going forward.
An ambitious, and potentially expensive, one here but there is some logic behind it.
The England international is well off a regular starting place having returned to Arsenal to find a rejuvenated Aaron Ramsey starring alongside Granit Xhaka, and could well be on his way out this summer.
Wenger has hinted that he is keen to keep hold of the fan favourite, who spent last season on loan with Bournemouth, but could be swayed to let him go – either for another temporary spell or a permanent deal.
His time with Eddie Howe’s side was hardly spectacular, however, he was consistent and a great asset to the Cherries. The 25-year-old was unfortunate to have a leg fracture cut his season short, however, the management team at Bournemouth proved that, with the correct training schedule, his niggling injury problems can be solved. Could be a canny addition.
The former Hull City man wanted a move to Celtic in January and, while nothing went through then, he could come cheaper having struggled at West Ham.
The Scotland international has the ability to turn a game on his own and would flourish with the likes of Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele around him.
As is so often with a move to east London, something just isn’t right at that club, things have not gone to plan, and it’s hard to imagine they would be too against a deal.