It won’t be Ronny Deila’s issue to confront this summer, but the outgoing Celtic manager has urged the club to exercise all the influence they can to ensure Patrick Roberts can play a full role in their Champions League qualifying campaign.
The £12 million Manchester City winger, on loan at Celtic until the summer of 2017, scored twice in yesterday’s 3-2 win over Aberdeen which wrapped up their fifth consecutive domestic title.
Roberts is a key member of the England squad which has qualified for the Uefa Under-19 Championship finals which take place from 11-24 July in Germany. His involvement there would see him miss both legs of Celtic’s opening Champions League qualifier.
“I don’t know what is going to happen with Patrick and it’s not my problem now,” said outgoing Celtic manager Deila.
“But I really hope he can stay and play for Celtic. That is important, to get him together with the team from the start. That, of course, is something that he wants and also the club wants. But, again, there are rules, so we will see what is happening.
“It is more important that Patrick gets to be the best first-team player he can be. He has played a lot of youth football in his life. He needs to play special games and Champions League are special games.
“The English FA can say that you go with us, but, again, you can’t force anybody to go. If he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t want to. But hopefully the clubs and the association can agree and not put him in a difficult situation.
“As I say, it is much more important for him to play Champions League. It means a lot for Celtic. They are big games. Also, if he goes away with England, then it is then harder for him to get into the team when he comes late into the pre-season. So it is for him as well, to get a good start for next season, start playing at once and get to know the new manager as well.
“Patrick is on fire nowadays. He is a special talent. You can see that every time he gets the ball something happens. He lifts fans up out of their seats and he is only 19-years-old. I am so happy that Celtic will keep him for next season as well because I think he will just get better.”
Deila expressed his satisfaction at formally clinching the Premiership title with victory over nearest rivals Aberdeen and was not overly concerned by the way his team had to hold on for a 3-2 win after leading 3-0.
“It feels good,” said Deila. “It was good to beat Aberdeen to show that we are the best team in the country. We are 12 points ahead now. That is a good thing. But I felt a greater sense of celebration last weekend after we won at Hearts because that was a very, very important game to win.
“Today I think we controlled the game and played very well in the first 60 minutes. Then I think we got a little bit edgy in the end. I am just happy that we got three points and got everything over the line. I wasn’t so nervous, even at 3-2. In the end we deserved to win.”