Could Tyler Roberts, the forgotten striker, be the solution Leeds United need up front?
The nineteen year-old has has three head coaches since signing on the dotted line at Elland Road, but is yet to make an appearance following a couple of injuries. The Welshman was already recovering from a previous injury upon arrival but he was suddenly found to have a cracked shin, which proved to rule him out for the remainder of the season. Signed by Thomas Christiansen, Roberts has represented Wales at level from under-15 upwards, earning fourteen appearances with two goals, one of which in the Victory shield final for the under-16s against England, a tournament in which he captained the side. Now, he returns to pre-season fit and hopeful that his injury problems are behind him, and now working under Marcelo Bielsa could be the best thing for him to fast-track his career having missed the second half of the season.
The forward has had three loan moves to Oxford, Shrewsbury and Walsall before the Whites snapped him up from now fellow Championship side West Bromwich Albion for an initial £2.5 million which will rise depending on other clauses in the contract. With Shrewsbury he scored four and assisted two in thirteen matches, two goals and one assist with Oxford in 22 games and five goals accompanied by four assists inside nineteen games including a goal and assist in the Walsall fightback against Bradford, coming back from 3-0 down to earn a point.
Roberts has been utilised across the front three, as a striker he likes to drift wide anyway, bringing the ball in-field with a perfect example being one of his goals for Walsall last season. A wonder-goal as he received the ball on the left, moved inside on the edge of the box, more of a crossing position, before curling his strike right into the far corner. Although Leeds are still looking for new options on the wing and up-front, but Roberts is fresh and could be a serious asset, though he remains to even be seen on the pitch for Leeds, but there’s definite potential there. Just look at Kemar Roofe and the kind of growth that he has made from jumping from league two to the Championship; last season he scored fourteen goals in the league and cup alongside five assists including hat-tricks against Newport County and Queens Park Rangers despite injury problems in the middle of the season. This comes of the back of his first season for Leeds where he only scored four though did assist seven. Last season he got a go up front for Leeds and seems to have impressed Bielsa enough to remain in Leeds while Roberts also remains in with a chance.
Roberts is a serious option on the wing as well as up top, he is capable of deadly balls into the box, many of which we saw during his time at Walsall. Leeds continue their search for more attackers but do not rule out this young Welshman. His pace and skill make him a great option as a winger or striker, his wonderful, instinctive finishing and cut-inside style can really work nicely for how Bielsa looks to set up the Leeds squad. It will be interesting to see Roberts in pre-season.