By Alex Stevens
Patrick Roberts will not be returning to parent club Manchester City this summer, according to manager Ronny Deila.
The Celtic boss was adamant in the wake of Roberts’ stunning two-goal show in his team’s 3-1 win over Hearts on Saturday that there is no recall clause in the 19-year-old’s 18-month loan contract.
Deila, whose team moved a step closer to retaining their Scottish Premiership title at the weekend, regards the teenage winger as an integral part of his plans for next season.
The Norwegian already has half an eye on July’ Champions League qualifiers and he expects Roberts to be a key player.
“The deal we have with Manchester City is for 18 months and we did that because we wanted the player to have time to settle and get to know how we play before the summer and next season,” said Deila, as quoted in the Glasgow Evening Times.
“We have always believed that he could be a big player for us.
“So there is no way he will be going back to Manchester City before the deal runs out. We made that very clear. We wanted him for the long-term loan. It was key to the move because we are trying to build a squad capable of performing and getting into the Champions League.”
Roberts had a difficult start to his loan spell at Parkhead as he struggled to earn a place in the team and failed to score in his first five appearances for the Scottish champions.
But he opened his account with two finishes against Hearts that were so clinical ex-Celtic boss Neil Lennon compared him afterwards to the world’s most celebrated left-footer, Lionel Messi.
“We are starting to see that he is a very talented boy and I think we will all see a little bit more of him now,” Deila added, as quoted by the Glasgow Evening Times. “He needed this time to get to know how we play and you have to remember that he is still very young. But if we can get the ball out to him, you can see what he is capable of doing.”
In other Celtic news, Liverpool are eyeing a move for one of the team’s emerging stars.