Lionel Messi has provided the blueprint for Patrick Roberts’ career so far and the Manchester City winger wants to begin proving he can play like his “idol” after joining Celtic on loan.
The 18-year-old winger penned a deal on Monday that will keep him at Parkhead until the end of next season, having made just three senior substitute appearances since joining City for an estimated £11million from Fulham in July.
A diminutive, left-footed player who often attacks from the right flank – on the face of it, Roberts’ comparison with Messi is not wholly inaccurate.
And with Pep Guardiola set to take the reins at City next season, conditions could be perfect for the England Under-19 international to make good on his lofty ambitions when he returns to the Etihad Stadium in 2017.
“It’s a conscious thing from me to try to be like Messi,” Roberts told the Daily Mail. “I’ve watched him for years and he’s my idol.
“You try to copy what he does and it also comes naturally to me as well. Because I’m left-footed I tend to move the same way as he does.
“In games I try to replicate what he does. I’ve studied him on YouTube and when La Liga is on, I watch that all the time. My view is that you watch the best to learn from the best.”
Despite struggling to force his way into the first-team picture at Premier League title-chasing City, Roberts is confident he can carve out a career at the top level.
He added: “I’m very determined. I started playing for Fulham at 14, which is quite late, and was in and around the first team at 16.
“I’ve got the determination to play at the highest level and I’m more than capable to do it.
“I’ve got the head for it, the mental side and the ability and my goals are achievable.
“The price tag is what it is – the clubs decide on that. But the expectation motivates me.”