The Citizens paid an initial £2million with a further £6million in add-ons for the 18 year-old winger, who claimed a place in the Team of the Tournament at last summer’s U17 European Championship.
He’s just one of three home-grown signings the former Premier League champions have made this summer, alongside Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph and Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, in an obvious effort to readdress the balance of a first team squad currently dominated by foreign stars.
We at Football Fancast expect the Etihad outfit to pick up a few more youthful, home-grown gems before the end of the transfer window, but who could be on their radar?
With that burning question in mind, we’ve listed FIVE English youngsters who may soon follow Patrick Robert to Eastlands. Which of these FIVE home-grown prodigies should City invest in this summer?
Patrick Roberts was by no means the only prodigious youngster catching the eye at Fulham last season. The west London outfit are nurturing an impressive batch of young talents including home-grown goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.
Indeed, he stepped in for David Stockwell at the start of last term and hugely impressed, making 99 saves and keeping eight clean sheets – despite the Cottagers spending much of the season flirting with relegation – in 39 Championship appearances. That saw him come second in the club’s Player of the Year award poll.
Many have tipped the 23 year-old, who measures in at 6 foot 4, to eventually succeed Joe Hart within the England fold, despite only making his first appearance for the Three Lions at any level during the U21s’ 1-0 win over Czech Republic in March this year.
In identical circumstance to City’s pursuit of Roberts, Bettinelli’s contract is set to expire at the end of next season, so this summer is certainly the right time to force Fulham into cashing-in.
Sam Byram has been tipped for the top virtually ever since making his Leeds United debut at the start of the 2012/13 campaign; a season which eventually saw him pick up the Players’ Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Club Supporters’ Player of the Year awards at Elland Road – as well as the Goal of the Year award for his effort against Oxford shown in the video above.
The Yorkshire outfit’s continuous turbulence at management and board level, along with some injury issues, has impacted his progress since. But the 21 year-old is still regarded as one of the most exciting prospects in the Championship, compared to a young Gareth Bale for his ability to play anywhere along the right flank and his shared combination of technique and athleticism.
Last season, splitting his time pretty evenly between midfield and defence, the youngster averaged 1.7 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and one created chance per match from his 39 Championship outings – also claiming one goal and three assists.
Southampton and Everton, amongst other top flight outfits, have tried and failed to prize Byram away from Elland Road before, so City will have to make a significant offer to convince Leeds to sell.
Along with Sam Byram, Demarai Gray is probably the most sought-after English youngster in the second tier, having already been linked to Manchester United and Liverpool on several occasions.
He’s been dubbed ‘the Raheem Sterling of the Championship’ and certainly shares the £49million signing’s style of play, with fantastic speed, creativity and dribbling control, alongside the ability to operate at almost breakneck speed and play anywhere across the attacking midfield berth.
The 19 year-old has already registered 48 league appearances for Birmingham City, last season claiming six goals and one assist whilst averaging 1.9 shots, 1.1 created chances and 1.6 successful dribbles per match.
The England U20, who boasts 10 caps across the youth levels despite making his Three Lions debut just 18 months ago, has just signed a three-year contract at St. Andrew’s, so Birmingham will be incredibly reluctant to sell this summer.
Jack Grealish has been in the spotlight for some good reasons and some bad reasons over the last few months, juxtaposing a spate of impressive displays for Aston Villa with pictures of himself curled up on the pavement all paralytic during a post-season holiday in Tenerife.
But on the field, the 19 year-old was certainly amongst the Premier League’s most eye-catching youngsters in the second half of last season, combining tricky footwork, mobility and perceptive movement off the ball to average 1.1 created chances, 1.4 successful dribbles and 0.9 accurate crosses per match from his 17 league outings, whilst claiming a pass completion rate of 92.7%.
The attacking midfielder is an exciting prospect blessed with the not-so-typically-English knack of ghosting past defenders with the ball at his feet, which is why England are desperately hoping he’ll switch international allegiances after representing the Republic of Ireland 19 times at youth level, scoring six goals.
Grealish signed a four-year deal in October 2014, however, so the Villains will feel under no pressing obligation to sell.
Southampton’s academy has produced some fantastic talents over the last decade or so – not least including world record-breaking £87million Real Madrid man Gareth Bale.
And one of the latest to muscle his way into senior affairs at St. Mary’s is midfielder James Ward-Prowse, most notably famed for his lethality from dead ball situations – as shown in the video above – which has earned comparisons with David Beckham and Steven Gerrard.
The rest of the 20 year-old’s game still requires some work but he’s a phenomenal technical talent with a hardworking attitude; a combination which should serve him particularly well in the Premier League. He boasts plenty of experience too, with 74 Premier League appearances for the Saints already, alongside 31 caps for the Junior Lions.
Roy Hodgson has described Ward-Prowse as a ‘big prospect‘ and hinted that he’s in contention for an England call-up in the near future. A Three Lions debut can only skyrocket the youngster’s price-tag, so City would be wise to snap him up as soon as possible.